NAG educates members about grants to improve quality of life

By Nick Diamantides
Staff Writer

You may qualify to receive grant money for the home improvement project you have been putting off for some time. That qualification was one of the topics discussed by Alem Hagos at last week’s Wrigley Village Neighborhood Advisory Group (NAG) meeting. Hagos, development project manager for the Long Beach Department of Community Development spoke to about 30 people who attended the NAG monthly meeting last Thursday at 2023 Pacific Avenue.
Hagos’ overall topic was the City of Long Beach Action Plan, which will detail how the city plans to spend the millions of dollars it will receive from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009. “This plan must be developed and submitted to HYD every year,” Hagos said. “It will describe in detail how the city proposes to use HUD funds in low-income areas in order to meet the city’s needs.”
City officials hope to have a draft version of the action plan ready by May 18th and to make it available at the main public library, the neighborhood resource center, the city’s Web site, and by direct contact with city staff.
“A public hearing on the recommended action plan will be held on June 18 in Long Beach City Council Chambers,” Hagos said. “Today’s presentation is part of an extensive community outreach effort culminating in the June public hearing.”
Hagos noted that between now and the early part of May, the city will use various means to inform community members about the action plan development process and to provide an opportunity for input from community members.
Final accomplishments of the current action plan—which runs through Sept. 30—are not yet known, but Hagos detailed a long list of accomplishments in the action plan that ended on Sept. 30, 2007. “In order to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for Long Beach households with the greatest needs, the city assisted in the creation of 42 housing units for low- and moderate-income households,” Hagos said, adding that some of those were rental units and other were for sale units.
Under the 2007-2008 action plan, the city also used HUD funds to provide security and/or utility deposits to 73 households, conduct code enforcement inspections on 19,925 housing units, provide home improvement assistance to 790 households in the forms of rebates, tool rental and security enhancements and provide more than 200 zero- or low-interest loans for the rehabilitation of housing units.
Hagos described about 20 other projects undertaken by the city with HUD funds, but the people in attendance seemed most interested in the home improvement assistance programs.
In response to questions from the audience, Hagos said that the city has a program that offers rebates of up to $2,000 for exterior improvements on residential properties and another program that offers up to $500 toward rental tools used for home improvement projects including landscape improvements. The city also offers financial assistance for home security enhancement and neighborhood clean up.
“These programs are available to residents of specific neighborhoods who meet certain income guidelines,” Hagos noted.
To find out if you qualify for financial assistance for your home improvement project, phone (562) 570-6866.
To give your suggestions for the city’s 2008-2009 action plan, phone (562) 570-7402 or write to: Alem Hagos, City of Long Beach, 444 West Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90802.

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