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Federal housing, economic aid down $34,000 this year

By Martin Burkey
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2441

Federal aid for housing and economic opportunities for low and moderate income residents is down by $34,000 this year, city officials said Monday.

Community Development Director Michelle Gilliam Jordan said the main reason is that more cities were put on the federal government's list to receive funding, a list based on income and poverty levels. Every city received about a 6-percent cut.

Jordan previewed her department's five-year budget for the Decatur City Council. The council is to vote on the department's $585,913 budget for 2005 and approve the department's five-year plan at its Feb. 7 business meeting.

The department had requests for $326,220 in public service grants from 14 agencies, including the Police Department, Mental Health Association and the Volunteer Center of Morgan County. It will fund only $91,786 of those requests, she said.

During the past five years, the community development block grant money averaged $500,000 and served as a major source of revenue for low and moderate income housing help through the housing program, recreation, public service activities and more, she said.

The department targets its spending on key areas of Decatur where housing and income rates are markedly lower than the city overall.

Jim Gregory, head of the department's Business Incubator, said he is ready to bid out renovation of its new Fourth Avenue site to make room for more tenants. The incubator's priority has been to lessen its dependence on help from the city and diversify the industry start-ups it supports, he said.

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