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Covington seeking public input on how to use federal grant funding through online survey, public hearing

Using an online survey and a virtual public hearing next week, the public can make suggestions on how the City of Covington should use its annual allocation of grant funds through the federal CDBG and HOME programs.

The City expects to receive about $2 million this funding cycle to go with funds left unspent from previous years.

Among other things, Covington uses federal HOME funds to help people buy houses. Each dot on this map (spread in almost every neighborhood in the city) represents an award through the Homebuyer Assistance Program over a recent six-year period.

Over the last decade, Covington has used these programs to invest about $20 million in neighborhood improvements and services, such as a bigger Barb Cook Park, new sidewalks along Pike Street in Lewisburg, emergency repairs for homeowners, and five-year forgivable loans for new homebuyers.

“We spend this money directly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, so we want to make sure we’re spending it where people think we need it most,” said Jeremy Wallace, the City’s Federal Grants Manager.

The survey can be accessed online and asks what programs and services people would like to see funded and where.

The virtual “Public Needs Hearing” will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, March 21 via Zoom. The hearing will be recorded and made available for viewing on the City’s website, www.covingtonky.gov.

The hearing will begin with a short explanation of the programs and their goals, and then the public will be asked for input. People can also email comments to Wallace at jwallace@covingtonky.gov.

Program goals

The money represents Covington’s annual allocations from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) programs, both of which are run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Federal statutes governing the CDBG program lay out three goals: Provide decent housing, provide a suitable living environment, and expand economic opportunities. The sole purpose of the HOME program is creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income households.

Previous allocations

As in past years, the City will take into consideration the input from residents, agencies, and organizations as it writes a budget document called the Annual Action Plan.

In past years, the plan has funded housing and economic development initiatives, public facility improvements, and public services. More specifically: Emergency home repairs. Down payments for homebuyers. Upgrades to neighborhood pools and parks. Smoother streets. Sidewalk ramps. Police patrols in high-crime neighborhoods. Creating affordable apartments above small storefronts. Planting trees.

“But, as we do every year, we want to know what Covington residents think,” Wallace said.

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