Georgetown’s Boston Community received a $510,000 Commmunity Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Kentucky communities Friday morning to renovate and rehabilitate up to 10 homes.
Georgetown Mayor Tom Prather welcomed Gov. Matt Bevin and other local, state and federal officials in announcing the nearly $3 million in federal grants which will benefit families across the state.
“Our Community Development Block Grant focuses on the Boston neighborhood in Georgetown,” Prather said to Bevin. “A neighborhood with a very rich tradition. Historically an African American neighborhood, and we thought we needed as many tools as we can to lift up the neighborhood. It isn’t a fix-all, but it is an important tool for us to use.
“I want everyone to know that the process we used has been the result of amazing collaboration with the neighborhood. We didn’t assume what they wanted, but had months and months of meetings with the neighborhood to determine if we even should submit an application, and if we did, one that met the needs of the neighborhood.”
The project is called the Boston Scattersite Housing Project, and local leaders praised the potential impact the federal monies could have.
“It is one important tool that we can use to begin to lifting up the neighborhood. It doesn’t fix all the problems, but it certainly benefits specific families who will have their homes renovated and then we will build on this,” Prather said. “We had 10 homes on the application and they were ranked based on need and condition and we will go in that order. It’s a big day in Georgetown.”
Work will likely start in the next few weeks in the Boston Community.
Bevin said there are three criteria that are looked at.
“This is a real blessing for these respective communities,” the governor said. “What is the need? How can the amount of money be requested actually have a positive effect? And will there be a good return on that money? Is it a reasonable amount? Number three is what is the long term positive effect from this? What is the return on investment?
“This has a powerful effect on people’s lives. There are many people in these communities that want that opportunity and just be given an opportunity.”
“It is a great honor and pleasure to be here and it is a good day to be in Georgetown and Scott County,” Magistrate Bernard Palmer said. “I was born Chicago, and moved to Sadieville when I was 5. My grandparents and a lot of good people in Sadieville taught us values, goals, the meaning of a dollar and never accept a handout but a hand up. We are a small community but we work together. That’s what makes the community special. I tell anyone in the Boston community who is going to receive benefits from these monies that this will make a big impact on giving you a vision; getting your neighborhood cleaned up and get involved with your community.”
Rep. Phil Pratt and Sen. Damon Thayer both thanked state and federal officials for selecting Georgetown to receive the grant.
“We have a great team in Scott County that does a great job,” Pratt said. “These grants provides much-needed opportunities to revitalize our communities.”
Added Thayer, “I am so proud it is Bernard’s constituents that will benefit from this grant. One of the things Reps. Hart, Mattox, Pratt and I face is ‘Thayer, you live in Georgetown. You are the fastest growing city, fastest growing county. You have Toyota. Why do you need that road money? Why do you need that CDBG grant? A growing community has challenges too. We have to keep up with the growing population. That’s why I’ve been a supporter of grants like this. It gives communities a hand up. This grant will help people in this community experience the American dream of home ownership.”
Peter Jackson, field officer for the Kentucky HUD office, said he understands the importance of events like Friday.
“What really matters is how local leaders, planners and citizens help determine the purpose of how these CDBG funds are used,” he said. “Leadership at HUD is anxious to see what outstanding projects and outcomes will result from these funds.”
Sandy Dunahoo, Commissioner of the Department for Local Government under the Office of the Governor, said affordable housing is an important part of successful economic development in Kentucky.
“We are here today to talk about housing. As you look at the greater economic development picture there are many pieces of a complex puzzle that have to fit together for Kentucky to move forward in all aspects of our economy,” she said. “Statistics show that good housing stock makes a tremendous impact. When potential industry comes into a a community and see boarded up houses, or in Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition, slum and blighted communities, it is an immediate deterrent. There is concern about the community. But we look at what good housing stock looks like. We see lower crime, better health benefits, students do better in school.
Today we are celebrating we are working with Department of Housing and Urban Development to invest $3 million in new housing project to parts far west, parts far east, here and parts in between.”
Bevin said he is looking forward to seeing how lives are changed by these grants.
“I’m willing to lay good odds that some kid in that community whose trajectory in life will be changed and in the future will be sitting on this stage as a magistrate, a governor, or a HUD official and pour back in the community because we did that for him.”
Steve McClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.