November 18, 2019

Calais to apply for $300,000 housing grant

CALAIS — City officials have until the end of January to apply for a $300,000 housing rehabilitation grant.

If the application is successful, the state grant will be used to renovate or replace housing for low- to moderate-income residents.

At their regular meeting Thursday night, the city councilors approved the creation of a community development advisory committee to manage the grant, as well as a four-page set of bylaws to govern the committee.

Jim Porter, the city’s code enforcement officer, said that, last year, the city decided to apply for the state housing funds. He said that although the money would be earmarked for home renovations, the city planned to work with the Washington-Hancock Community Agency in Milbridge through their Fix-Me program. That could mean that homes in need of extensive repairs could be replaced.

“Our grants [to homeowners] would be $15,000, with a possible bonus of up to $22,000, but WHCA has agreed to kick in … and it could be full [housing] replacement,” Porter said.

City officials expect to know in February if the city has won the grant. Porter said the city faced stiff competition for the funds not only from communities across the state, but also from communities right in their own back yard. He said Eastport and Danforth also had applied for similar grants.

Porter said he was working with a grant writer from Eastern Maine Development Corp. in Bangor. “They feel good about our chances because it has been 10 years or so since we had a similar grant,” he said.

The grant received 10 years ago targeted a number of dilapidated homes on Union Street and in the Milltown area, a village just north of the downtown area. Porter said the current grant application hadn’t targeted any specific neighborhood, but could be used citywide as long as it was used for low- to moderate-income homeowners.

Councilors Dennis Brown and Mike McPherson were on the committee that helped draft the bylaws, and they abstained from the vote Thursday night. The rest of the councilors voted 3-1 to create the new committee and bylaws. Councilor William Delmonaco Jr. cast the dissenting vote.

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