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Grant aids housing project

A grant from the state totaling more than $176,000 is set to fund a housing rehabilitation project in the Town of Dillwyn.

Todd Fortune

Dillwyn was announced as one of 15 localities in Virginia receiving grants, according to a news release from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Sept. 15.

The Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) aid localities in Virginia to complete projects improving healthcare access, water and sewer infrastructure, downtown revitalization, public safety and housing rehabilitation, according to the news release.

Dillwyn’s Housing Rehabilitation Project was awarded a total $176,300 for the project.

Todd Fortune, with the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC), said the project would rehabilitate six homes in the project site, which includes Culbreth Street and parts of White, Carter, Hancock and Conner streets. 

One house, Fortune said, will be torn down and rebuilt — a process called a “substantial reconstruct.” He said the house’s owner has had to live elsewhere as the home became uninhabitable.

“We have only dealt with (homeowners who) wanted to participate in the project,” Fortune said.

Fortune said a seventh house will be demolished without replacing it.

To qualify for the project, Fortune said the town has held regular meetings and has conducted several surveys, involving a rehab specialist who examined each house and surveys that determines income eligibility for residents.

He said the CRC assisted the town in applying for the grant in March.

Fortune said the CDBG is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and because the grant is federally-funded, the project must meet one of three objectives established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

He said the rebuilt home will not be lavish, but will meet federal safety guidelines.

Fortune said the primary purpose of Dillwyn’s project fulfills one requirement by the department, which is that the project benefits people with moderate to low income. A secondary purpose of the project, demolishing the seventh home, fulfills another requirement that encourages removing blighted homes from the project area. 

Karen Moss

Fortune said this project is one of several the town has recently undertaken.

“The town’s been very busy over the years with the streetscape project, the downtown revitalization and housing (has) really been their last big need that needs to be addressed,” Fortune said.

Dillwyn Vice Mayor Karen Sue Moss said the grant would help people in the town participating in the program.

“We are thrilled to get that grant,” Moss said, “and to be able to help the residents in the town with their housing.”

Fortune said the actual timeline of the project will be difficult to determine as several meetings will need to take place between the town and the DHCD before the grant takes effect. He said the meetings will include National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) clearance, which will be required as federal money will be funding the project, and adopting project documents, including a program design and some assurances and certifications.

He said the grant is applicable for two-year projects once the grant agreements have been issued, but said that localities can request extensions.