The city of Marietta will receive about $16,000 less from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program this year, and most of those cuts will likely impact the city’s housing rehabilitation program.
About $262,984 will go to the city’s rehab program this year, the most of the programs paid for under the city’s $542,284 block grant budget. That’s less than the $274,894 rehab got last year under the $558,394 total budget.
Though $16,000 is a small amount in the grand scheme of government funding, Mitch Bland, director of Marietta’s CDBG program, said his department will still take a hit.
“Every 16,000, that’s another housing rehabilitation job we can’t do,” Bland said.
Bland estimates the housing rehabilitation program has helped “probably 500 or 600 people, maybe 1,000” Marietta residents who are low income and own their own home.
Kathy Carothers said her quality of life drastically improved when the city replaced her townhome’s gutters, heating, ventilation and air condition system, windows and sliding glass door on her back patio.
“I would not have been able to get these improvements done,” Carothers said.
She’s a single mother with a grown daughter and a 16-year-old son. Carothers has owned her townhome off Sandtown Road for 13 years and at one time worked in the mortgage industry.
Her family fell on hard times after Carothers lost her job for the first time in 2001. Since then, she’s been laid off four more times.
“It’s been pure hell,” said Carothers, who has a degree in business management.
She now provides in-home care for seniors but makes about half as much as she did as a loan originator.
After feeling like she had been “slapped in the face” and seeing her opportunities dwindle, Carothers said she was encouraged to learn help existed for homeowners who want to maintain quality homes.
“It’s just nice to know that there are things out there that good, hard-working people can qualify for and benefit from,” she said.
Most clients are “very low income,” Bland said, and many are elderly residents surviving on Social Security.
Applicants must also demonstrate a dire need for home repair.
“This is not a home remodeling program,” Bland said. “It’s a home repair program.”
Cuts from the federal government will also impact other city efforts, Bland said, like slum and blight clearance and mentoring programs sponsored by the department, which he said have a wide reach.
“If you talk about the number of people who have been effected by CDBG you’re probably talking about 30,000 people,” Bland said.