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Covington City Commission approves $3.4 M in CDBG/HOME funds, $150K for small businesses

By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

The focus was all on the neighborhoods Tuesday night.

Two years ago, Covington devoted at least $36,000 to the city’s Small Business Initiatives program, which helped residents with facade improvements and rent subsidies.

While the intention was good, the implementation faltered; the program ran out of money just six months into the year.

One year ago, the city tried again, doubling their funding for the program, and again, the program ran out after six months.

This year, the program is thriving. After budgeting $150,000, city officials announced the recipients of the fourth round — which garnered 25 more applicants, according to Economic Development Director Tom West. With just over $40,000 left budgeted, the city decided to reward 12 more applicants, for a total of $64,000, he announced at the city commission’s regularly-scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night.

West said the city decided to pull the extra $22,000 from another façade program the city was thinking of implementing. Now, they’ve decided to add to what they say is already working.

“This tells the story” of the improvements made to the program, West said. “We’re really delighted to see that.”

West said city staffers will continue to work with the other applicants so they can try again next year.

Nearly all of the representatives of the businesses were present for the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday night.

“Thank you for your re-investment in the city,” Mayor Joseph U. Meyer told them, explaining that the decisions had been put on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting. “We’re 100 percent for it. Rest assured, things are in good shape for next week.”

At the end of Tuesday night’s meeting, the Mayor went on to praise the program and the city’s emphasis on investing in its neighborhoods.

“It reflects the commitment the commission has made to all of its neighborhoods,” Meyer said.

Six businesses applied for rent subsidies, while four were approved, and 19 applied for facade incentives, while eight were approved:

Rent subsidies:

Ripple Wine Bar, 4 W. Pike St.

Strange Stock Art Conservation, 315 E. 15th St.

Lorenzo’s Deli, 806 Madison Ave.

Alterations & More, 3702 Decoursey Ave.

Façade subsidies:

Lucky Twins LLC, 268 Pike St.

Victory Battery Co.,1502 Russell St. 

Corner Store Project, 2120 Eastern Ave.

The Point Arc, 43 W. Pike St. 

Center for Great Neighborhoods, 302 West MLK Jr. Blvd.

RP PROP OZ, 115 Park Place

Left Bank Coffee, 701 Greenup St.

Amerasia, 521 Madison Ave.

CDBG/HOME Action Plan will Invest $3.4M in Housing

Two weeks ago, Community Development Manager Jeremy Wallace presented a draft of the 2019-20 CDBG/HOME Annual Action Plan to commissioners, where $3.4 million has been set aside for low and moderate-income areas.

The Annual Action Plan “outlines the city’s plans to utilize the CDBG/HOME funds to address the needs of low- and moderate-income residents through housing, economic development, public improvements and public services,” city documents say.

It allocates:

$300,000 for about 60 forgivable loans that help homebuyers pay closing costs and make down payments.

$400,000 to help owners of buildings with first-floor commercial storefronts turn their upper floors into affordable apartments. 

About $485,000 to help non-profit organizations that partner with the city rehab dilapidated homes to create affordable single-family housing. 

$198,000 for emergency repairs to help low-income homeowners

Other highlights include:

$138,000 in street resurfacing

$200,000 for a second round of The Ripple Effect

$345,000 for the Scott Street streetscape project

$100,000 for crime prevention and community policing in City Heights and other communities

$35,000 for targeted code enforcement in problem areas to ensure safe and sanitary neighborhoods

$95,000 for the Read Ready Covington early childhood literacy program

The plan will be voted on next Tuesday.

Neighborhood Grant Program Awards $30K in Incentives

Following the commission’s emphasis on neighborhood improvements Tuesday night, the city approved 10 applications (from eight neighborhoods and one collaborative) for all kinds of community improvements, for a total of $30,609.65:

Lewisburg – $800, Little Libraries

Eastside – $4,850, Music and Soul Food Festival

Latonia-Ritte’s Corner – $1,500, Water Cart for Pots

Latonia-Ritte’s Corner – $1,500, Planters

Peaselburg – $3,400, Banners and 4th of July Parade

Westside – $4,360, Tent/Popcorn Maker for Annual Halloween Event

Mainstrasse – $3,600, Murals, Flower Pots, Dog Waste Station, Comm Garden

Eastern 4 – $1,246, Neighborhood Gathering {Music & Food)

Licking Riverside – $4,853.65, Irrigation and Water Fountain for Park

Levassor Park – $4,500, Block Party/Planters/Banners Yard Signs/Solar Lights

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., June 11, at the Covington City Hall at 20 West Pike St.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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