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Sterling Heights

April 9, 2013

City approves block grant funds

By Eric Czarnik
C & G Staff Writer

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Library worker Abby Gruber, of Beverly Hills, pushes a cart of audio books at the Sterling Heights Public Library. The City Library Collection, books that are sent to seniors’ homes, may receive Community Development Block Grants funds.

The Sterling Heights City Council had no problem finding a block of support to approve funding for Community Development Block Grant programs for 2013-14.

In a 7-0 vote, the City Council approved allocations for an estimated $593,056 in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

CDBG coordinator Stephanie Burgess told the council that the estimate is not a definite figure, as it is based on lowering the most recent year’s allocation of around $624,000.

“Due to the failure of Congress to reach a deal on balanced deficit reduction to avoid sequestration, we have been advised to expect a 5 percent reduction for the 2013-14 program year,” she said.

According to a city memo, a One-Year Action Plan has the block grant money devoting resources to a plethora of local agencies that assist senior citizens,  the poor and the homeless.

Under an estimated $443,900 of spending on capital projects, the block grants would allocate around $348,900 to improve Indigo Drive, near 15 Mile and Ryan roads. The plan sets aside $60,000 for code enforcement and additional funding for housing programs, like the Minor Home Repair Program and the Home and Property Improvement Program.

Public services for the community, including programs for the elderly and poor, will get almost $89,000 in funding. That includes almost $13,000 for senior center programming, $6,000 for the City Library Book Collection and $5,000 for the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team, or MCREST.

This is the 39th year that Sterling Heights has participated in the block grant program. In December, a Citizens Advisory Committee examined requests from applicants who wanted to receive block grant money.

Burgess said the group received requests from applicants who wanted more funding than the city was able to allot.

“They were able to come up with enough to give everybody something,” Burgess said.

Councilwoman Barbara Ziarko said she appreciated some of the listed items. “I like the idea that, part of it, we are doing some road improvement and code enforcement and some park improvement, so some of them are going to maintain what we already have,” she said.

Councilman Joseph Romano asked whether Sterling Heights’ block grant funds would actually help Sterling Heights residents, as opposed to residents in Macomb County. Burgess said the money goes to city residents or homeless people whose last address was in the city.

Burgess said the next step is to prepare a CDBG annual plan and submit it by May 15.

Learn more about Sterling Heights at www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Eric Czarnik at eczarnik@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1058.