Polk applies for grant for Columbus Village Project

Published 8:00 am Friday, October 19, 2018

Project planned to bring affordable housing, daycare to town

COLUMBUS — After holding two public hearings, Polk County is moving forward with applying for a Community Development Block Grant to bring an affordable housing project to Columbus.

Polk County Commissioners met Monday and approved applying for a $750,000 grant.

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The Columbus Village Project plans for affordable housing and a daycare facility on 3.5 acres of Thermal Belt Outreach property, located off White Drive in Columbus.

Commissioners heard from Consolidated Human Services Director Joshua Kennedy on Monday about the grant application.

“Thermal Belt Outreach has met as a board and approved the process, as well as WCCA [Western Carolina Community Action],” Kennedy said.

Commissioners unanimously approved submitted the grant, which was submitted to CDBG on Tuesday.

WCCA has agreed to operate the daycare facility in the planned development, which is proposed to be 6,000-9,000 square feet, and will house 36 children and nine employees.

The housing project is proposed to include eight units of supportive housing, and phase II of the project includes a partnership with the Polk County High School Construction Program.

Partners of the project include the CDBG grant, Polk County High Construction program to build the homes in phase II, the Housing Assistance Corporation for construction, Thermal Belt Outreach and Steps To HOPE for services and the Western Carolina Community Action to operate the daycare facility.

The total project is estimated at nearly $1.4 million, with the first phase to be paid through the CDBG grant of $750,000. The CDBG grant would cover the property acquisition, administration, developer fee and street/drainage/water improvements. The Housing Assistance Corporation will apply for a supportive housing loan to construct the eight supporting housing units, and WCCA is dedicated to raising 20 percent for construction of their daycare and take out a loan for the rest, states the grant application.

The acquisition of the property, owned by Outreach, is $87,500.

The grant application also states that housing is a need for many residents in Polk County, especially access to safe, decent, affordable rental housing and upkeep on existing owner-occupied units.

“The loss of higher-wage manufacturing jobs has depressed family incomes, and low to moderate income families, as well as previously higher-income families, are struggling to maintain or improve their current housing situations,” states the grant application.