Addressing Housing Needs

Published 3:28 pm Thursday, February 27, 2014

DILLWYN — A $3,000 planning grant for a proposed Dillwyn Housing Needs Assessment Project could be on the horizon for Town leaders.

During a called meeting on Tuesday, March 25, members of the Dillwyn Town Council unanimously agreed to apply for the grant from Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), requesting assistance from the Farmville-based Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC).

The Town will have to complete five major tasks in order to qualify for the grant money by April 5: completion of an initial public meeting, completion of an initial management team meeting, completion of neighborhood surveys, completion of an infrastructure assessment, and completion of a second management team meeting.

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“Once DHCD has received and reviewed your response detailing the results of the above steps, a determination will be made as to the viability of the proposed project and eligibility to continue,” cites a letter from Denise H. Ambrose, DHCD associate director.

“We’ve got a tight rope, but I think we can make it. I think it will be well worth it,” commented Dillwyn’s Mayor Linda Venable Paige following the council’s vote.

Town leaders agreed to hold a community-wide cookout for residents of the Town where free food and refreshments will be provided, setting a stage for residents and homeowners to fill out the grant-required neighborhood surveys. The event is slated for Sunday, March 9 at 2 p.m. at Ellis Acres Memorial Park on Camden Street in Dillwyn. The rain date is Sunday, March 16.

Community involvement in the process is key to the Town obtaining the grant.

“We have talked about this several times, properties in the Town that needed rehabilitation or something of that type. And Peggy (Johnson, the Town’s clerk and treasurer) wrote the department of housing, and to make a long story short, we are here because of that,” Paige explained.

In discussing which area or what houses could potentially be rehabilitated, CRC staff member Todd Fortune commented, “You can theoretically do the entire Town as a project area, but I’ll get clarification on whether they want you to survey every single house in the Town…That’s probably going to be the most time-intensive item in this list.”

According to the letter from Ambrose, “The Town must survey all of the households in the project area to determine household needs.”

“Once you complete these five items and submit deliverables to DHCD, you’ll have access to $30,000. And then, what will happen after that, is you’ll have what’s called a facilitative planning session, and typically what happens is a number of DHCD staff comes in and goes over the project and what needs to be done next, and the next stage of planning. And after that is done, the Town will apply for the rest of the planning grant, which will be $27,000,” commented Fortune in response to a question from council member Carolyn Anderson Davis.

Fortune, a Buckingham resident, told the council members that the first stage of the overall process involved the collecting of data. “The next phase of planning, where more money is involved, you would want to hire a rehab specialist for the target houses and actually do inspections, and depending on the infrastructure needs, hire an engineer to come in and do a PER (preliminary engineering report.)”

Following the second stage of planning, the Town could potentially apply for construction funds, according to Fortune.

According to Johnson, about 447 people reside in the Town’s corporate limits.