Montgomery HRA receives $57,000 grant

Montgomery's Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) received a boost to its maintenance/new building fund on Thursday, Aug. 8 when it was awarded a $57,878 grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Montgomery public housing authority's amount was part of the $27 million grants given to HUD agencies across the state. They are part of HUD's Capital Fund Program and are used for major large-scale improvements to HRA's public housing units. The money can be used to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize the public housing through large-scale improvements like new roofs or energy-efficient upgrades in the communities' buildings.
The Montgomery HRA owns and operates Park Manor Apartments. The building, located at 300 Oak Ave. SE houses 30 units in a building that was built in 2011, after a fire had destroyed the previous complex on February 21, 2009. According to Park Manor Manager Bob Rotter, the grant money the HRA received comes from the RHF or Replacement Housing Fund that the HRA has been receiving annually since 2011 when the new building was completed. He said over the years, the amounts, designated by the HUD agency, have varied.
“In 2011 we received around $34,453, in 2012 $40,542, and this year, $57,878,” he said. “We don't know what we'll get next year or in 2015.”
Each year HUD property managers fill out an annual plan based on goals determined by the board of directors for possible HUD funding. Since Park Manor is new and doesn't need any repairs or renovations, Rotter said his annual plan has contained just one item: an additional HUD building. 
In 1969 HUD approved Montgomery to have 41 new low-rent units in Montgomery. When Park Manor was rebuilt after the fire, funds allowed for 30 larger units, leaving 11 units that the HRA could either build or aquire.
Rotter said the remaining 11 units could be handled in several ways, either through a new building, or by turning existing buildings to HUD properties. He said City Administrator Steve Helget has identified five parcels that could be used, but ultimately it will be up to the board to decide.
Until then, the money is being held until the board approves its use. Rotter said the money is to be obligated to its use by two years after receiving it, then the HRA has two years from that time to spend it. However, since the new Montgomery complex doesn't need it, Rotter has filled out paperwork that pushes all of the grants' deadlines to 2017 for obligation and 2019 for expenditure. 
“Because of our situation (forced to rebuild a HUD facility at a time when HUD wasn't allowing new facilities) they must look favorably on us,” he said.
Rotter said two years from the last received grant (2015), the HRA board will need to decide what they want to do with it or return all of the accumulated monies.
Antonio R. Riley, HUD's Midwest Regional Administrator said housing authorities in Minnesota count on this funding to maintain and improve their public housing for many families, especially the most vulnerable - our seniors," said. 
Capital Fund grants are awarded each year to the nation's approximately 3,100 public housing agencies through a formula that considers number, type and age of units in a community. Eligible uses for this funding include development, financing and modernization of the public housing units as well as management improvements at the public housing authority.
Over the past 75 years, the federal government has been working and investing billions of dollars in developing and maintaining public and multifamily housing - including providing critical support through the Capital Fund. Still, the nation continues to lose approximately 10,000 public housing units annually, primarily due to disrepair. In 2011, HUD released Capital Needs in the Public Housing Program, a study that estimated the capital needs in the public housing stock. The study found the nation's 1.2 million public housing units are facing an estimated $25.6 billion in large-scale repairs. Unlike routine maintenance, capital needs are extensive improvements required to make the housing decent and economically sustainable, such as replacing roofs or updating plumbing and electrical systems to increase energy efficiency.