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Smithfield seeks $750K housing revitalization grant

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SMITHFIELD — Town officials are applying for a $750,000 housing revitalization grant. The Smithfield Town Council unanimously approved the application at its June 4 meeting.

The town is applying for the grant through the state’s Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program, administered by the N.C. Department of Commerce and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The town hired Skip Green of Clayton-based Skip Green and Associates to help write the grant application. Housing rehabilitation financial assistance will be available for qualified applicants through deferred forgivable loans used to rehabilitate owner-occupied homes.

Mayor Pro-tem Travis Scott asked Green how potential applicants would be notified of the program.

“The last time, there were three neighborhood meetings, public notices and we worked with churches in area,” said Green. “Everyone was aware, and we actually surveyed door to door. We went to homeowners with low to moderate incomes and made them understand the assistance is a loan, not an out-and-out grant.”

During the public hearing, Tony Nixon, president of the East Smithfield Improvement Organization, voiced support for the grant application.

“We are in full support of this grant for Smithfield, this will be something that will benefit the entire town,” said Nixon. “The town is aging, there’s a need for a lot of rehabilitation. It will also enhance overall appearance and quality of life as we move forward.”

To qualify, homeowners must be current on all Johnston County and Smithfield taxes at the time of the loan application and remain current for the life of the loan.

Applicant must have homeowners’ insurance and low-income property owners may, but aren’t required, contribute to the cost of rehabilitating their homes.

The town will review existing loans to determine whether the CDBG grant, along with those loans, cause the loans to equal or exceed the home’s value.

Applicants must sign an acknowledgment that they understand the town’s CDBG assistance is a deferred, forgivable loan. All or a portion of the CDBG assistance will be payable if the home is sold or the owner no longer occupies the property before the loan is repaid.

As the level of CDBG assistance increases, the repayment period lengthens. For assistance less than $12,000, it must be repaid in five years. For assistance of more than $20,000, the loan must be repaid in eight years.

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