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Charlotte Co. commissioners to discuss housing plan, leftover federal money

Charlotte County
Posted at 5:15 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 06:02:44-04

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.  — Commissioners of Charlotte County will soon discuss where to allocate the rest of the federal government's American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds.

The county received $36 million from the Department of Treasury. In a draft plan, the county spent close to $6 million of the fund. Nearly all of it went to public safety payroll, such as first responders. In a proposal for this calendar year, $7.5 million of the $9 million is recommended to go to the water reclamation facility expansion.

However, county commissioners have previously said they want to look into spending some of the money on the affordable housing market.

"So there are very strict rules about the way that ARPA funding can be spent," said Carrie Walsh, the county's human services director. "The funding needs to be completely spent or encumbered by the end of December in 2024, but construction projects get a little bit of a longer leeway time to wrap that up."

Walsh says one issue could be the access to supplies and rising costs.

She would like to see some of the money go to different aspects of the crisis.

"Anything that adds to the inventory in our community is welcome and necessary and needed. In my opinion, our community needs multifamily rental. That's a missing spot for us," Walsh said. "We also need the ability to work with landlords, we need to be able to entice landlords to accept housing choice vouchers, which folks may know those as as Section Eight vouchers."

Some of the cash in the draft plan may also go to other infrastructure and helping people negatively impacted by the pandemic.

There is money in the pipeline and already being used to get a handle on the affordable housing crisis.

"Currently, we have a little over $800,000 in the housing trust fund and in essence what that is, is that's a combination of some program income that we received," Walsh said. "What happens is, is that that those activities create program income. So people paying off loans or mortgages or things like that, so that program income is available for us to use."

There's also $1.8 million on the table, but Charlotte County commissioners need to approve of the Local Housing Assistance Plan. The money came from the Florida Legislature.

"So those are great pots of money for us to be able to assist people with. The issue is is that many of those funds have to be set aside for us to use on homeownership activities versus rental, so we always have to follow those rules and it is difficult because many of the uses for homeownership are down payment assistance" Walsh said.

At a July meeting, commissioners are expected to vote on the plan and get the ball rolling on the plan.

"I think more than anything else, I think we're just it's we're in an unfortunate game of catch up right now," Walsh said.

On July 18, commissioners will host a workshop to talk about the ARPA funds. A vote will not happen at that time, but Fox 4 will continue to monitor the developing story.