In an effort to find answers as to why the communities $850,000 Community Housing Improvement Preservation (CHIP) Program funding application was denied, a delegation from Scioto County met with Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) Director David Goodman, in Columbus, last week.
Those meeting with Goodman included Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree, Scioto County Grant Administrator Michele Throckmorton along with Senator Joe Uecker and staff, and representatives from Senator Rob Portman and State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson’s offices.
Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis provided the Daily Times with a narrative resulting from that August 26 meeting in Columbus. When the news first broke about the communities CHIP application not being funded, Scioto County Commissioner Bryan Davis was told the application was incomplete because of a missing document.
However, according to the narrative of the meeting,“ODSA disputed having received the required missing documentation (one sheet of paper) for the application, Scioto County proved that it had indeed provided the required documentation. Upon proving this ODSA then insisted that 2 of 3 certifications (required documentation) were expired. This was alleged after claiming they did not receive them originally. Scioto County proved that the EPA had extended the license expiration of thousands of contractors due to an EPA caused delay in licensing. An extension letter was presented to ODSA. They were not aware of this and said they would ‘look into the matter further”.
Todd Walker, Chief Communications Officer for the Ohio Development Services Agency of Columbus said the agency informed communities if their CHIP application was funded over the phone (week of August 15). He said formal letters were being sent to the communities on Monday, August 29.
Initially, it was reported the application was not scored by the Ohio Development Services Agency.
Coversely, during the meeting, “ODSA admitted the application had indeed been scored. The application received a score of 75.62. The minimum thresh hold for funding was 82.64. ODSA claimed that even if all paper work was present the application would not have scored high enough to be awarded. Scioto County asked if the 75.62 score included points awarded if the required paperwork was accepted. They would not answer. It was agreed that ODSA would look into some of their procedures. Funding was not granted this year.”
The city of Portsmouth and Scioto County made a joint application because they thought it was required.
Walker said communities are not required to apply together, but when they do it enhances the application.
“It (joint application) is not mandated by the state, we do incentivize partnerships, there’s a potential to receive more funding and more points in the scoring process,” Walker said.
When asked if the time for the communities application to be funded has passed Walker said, “the simple answer is yes.”
The Ohio Development Services Agency agency will provide technical support for the communities that did not receive funding and invite them to apply next time. “We work with the communities that are not funded, so future applications can have a better chance of being funded,” Walker said.
He said the CHIP program is highly competitive and not every community that applies is funded, there were roughly 45 community applications funded this round. According to Davis, “Nearly a 1/3rd of all applicants were not funded this round.” The amount not awarded to Scioto County/City of Portsmouth is a total of $425.000.00 Davis said, “Scioto County and the City of Portsmouth can re-apply in May 17. It is our intention to do so and to work with ODSA to become a successful applicant in the future.”
Local, projects considered under the CHIP program included, funding for people living in low to moderate income housing to do repairs and rehabilitation projects on current owner occupied homes. Eligible projects could include window and roof replacement, wheelchair accessibility ramps, electrical, structural or mechanical repairs and sewer projects.
According to the Ohio Development Services Agency, The CHIP Program provides grants to eligible communities interested in undertaking housing-related activities, including necessary infrastructure improvements. The grants are awarded competitively and encourage a flexible, community-wide approach to improving and providing affordable housing for low-to moderate-income persons and strengthening neighborhoods through community collaboration.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933 or @WayneAllenPDT