The Town of Smithfield has been awarded a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). In 2018, the Town applied unsuccessfully for the grant for housing rehabilitation in low to moderate income areas, primarily in Belmont and East Smithfield.
In 2019, the Town reapplied for the grant. Due to delays caused by COVID, the grant was only recently awarded to the Town.
Skip Green of Skip Green Associates gave an update July 6th to the Town Council on the rehabilitation process. Twenty-two houses owned by low income owner-occupants were selected for repairs and renovations. To qualify, the homes must not meet current building codes.
Of the 22 homes initially selected in 2019, two of the occupants have died, two declined to fill out applications, and six others decided not to participate. The remaining 12 homeowners did apply for assistance to cover costs for plumbing, electrical, structural, roofing, flooring or HVAC repairs.
Five of the 12 homes were put out to bid with area contractors. Four contractors submitted bids, however, Mr. Green said two were disqualified because of their references. The five homes are currently in the process of being rebid.
Mr. Green said any funds left over from the repairs can be used to renovate other substandard houses. Due to the rising costs of construction material and labor, repair costs are up substantially this year.
The CDBG is ideal for low income homeowners needed upgrades. For example, if a homeowner agrees to a five year loan for the cost of repairs, 20% of the loan is forgiven each year. After 5 years the homeowner is debt free.
The Town of Smithfield is working closely with Johnston, Lee, Harnett Community Action throughout the process.