Sunday, February 06, 2000

Newport retools plan for housing

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — After a number of recent setbacks, Newport city officials will take a long look in the coming months at the direction of the city's ongoing affordable housing project, hoping to plot a path for success.

        City Manager Phil Ciafardini informed city commissioners at a recent commission meeting that Newport had failed to obtain a pair of grants totaling about $550,000 that would have gone toward restoration and new home construction.

        Ultimately, Newport and the Newport Housing Authority here want to build 300 new homes and apartments for low- and moderate-income families.

        Last year, a joint application effort by the city and the housing authority for a $37 million federal Hope VI grant was denied by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. That funding would have initiated the migration of low income families from 202 federal housing units on 4th Street to new and rehabilitated housing throughout the city, paving the way for demolition of the housing project for commercial and residential development along the riverfront.

        Then Newport lost two more grants — $165,000 for restorations on Isabella Street and $390,000 for construction of four new structures on Saratoga Street.

        “At this point, we need to step back and take another look at the total housing program,” Mr. Ciafardini said. “We were hopeful we would get those (two) grants to supplement the $1 million grant we received for the Liberty Row project.”

        The state awarded a $1 million Community Development Block Grant which will permit the city to move ahead with the Liberty Row project, building 10 homes in the initial phase on Isabella near Eighth Street in the same block as the Brighton Center headquarters. The homes would be for low- and moderate-income families.

        Mr. Ciafardini said that over the next several months, city staff and the city commission will conduct sessions where the total housing project will be clearly outlined.

        “The goal of the project is to promote home ownership, primarily,” he continued. “We also want to provide better housing opportunities for everyone. Hope VI is a combination of ownership and rental, but all the other programs are geared toward ownership.

        “We're looking for a good income mix ... trying to create a good balance of housing opportunities and pinpoint areas where the mix of low-, middle- and upper-income housing will best work.”

        Mark Brown, executive director of the Newport Housing Authority, said local officials are waiting for the announcement from HUD as to how much Hope VI money is available this year and the filing deadline. That information should be forthcoming this month.

        “We intend to file for Hope VI again this year,” Mr. Brown said.


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