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Worthington City Hall (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

City of Worthington to host meeting on development program

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WORTHINGTON -- In conjunction with the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (SWMHP), the city of Worthington is applying for Small Cities Development Program funds.

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The city will host an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Monday in the city hall council chambers.

"We received word that we are going on to the next round, we are going to the final application process," said Brad Chapulis, Worthington's Director of Community and Economic Development. "We are doing an informational meeting on Monday with the homeowners to give them an update with where things are, what we are doing to make sure we have a competitive application and to encourage those who have not filled out pre-application forms to do so."

The funds are used to rehabilitate and renovate neighborhoods. That money can be used for items that improve structural stability. Examples could include: foundations, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, siding and windows.

"The purpose and intent of those funds is for housing rehab," Chapulis said. "There are two components; the first is homeownership rehab and the second is rental property rehab."

Late last year, the city hosted an informational meeting to explain its plan.

"At that time, and it still is the case, we have a target area that is the residential properties that are located within the boundaries of Oxford, Humiston, Okabena and the railroad tracks," Chapulis said.

Property owners in that area are able to apply for state dollars to be used to rehabilitate or renovate their homes.

"At the time we had our informational meeting, we laid out what eligibility would be for individual property owners, whether that be homeowner or rental," Chapulis said. "At that meeting, we gave a basic timeline of the review period by the state. First, there is a preliminary application that was due Nov. 1. At that deadline, the state employees reviewed the applications and identified those that are weak or that they are not willing to consider for funding."

A year ago, the state was able to award multiple grants.

"Last year, I want to say $28 million is what they gave out and awarded to close to 40 communities," Chapulis said. "It's a competitive process. I believe there were 93 that had applied last year."

The city and the housing partnership submitted an application at the end of last year, and is now moving forward.

"The state only gets X number of dollars per year toward that effort, so they do a competitive grant process," Chapulis said. "That Nov. 1 deadline was a preliminary application outlining the scope of the project, what the project costs may be and what the state does is review all those applications."

Worthington has been receiving money for this type of grant for years.

"Worthington has been applying and receiving funds since 2004," Chapulis said. "It started off in the downtown and the neighborhood directly north of the downtown. We just closed out a grant for Cherry Point Park and the east-side neighborhoods."

According to Jennifer Prins with SWMHP, since 2004 Worthington has received $3.6 million in SCDP funds. Those were used to repair 24 commercial properties, 57 owner-occupied homes and 91 rental units. Also, 30 new rental units were constructed with support from the SCDP funds.

Chapulis is hoping for a strong turnout on Monday to help give Worthington a better application toward the money.

"As a city, we see value into stabilizing and continuing to making sure our homeowners are putting money into the stability of their house," he said. "What better way to do it than to obtain state or federal dollars that have minimal strings attached?"

The scope of the project may have to be trimmed, but Chapulis is hoping that won't be the case.

"That's why we're asking residents or even citizens of Worthington or the region, if they know somebody that's in that target area that can benefit from it, to contact them and let them know if they don't know to get the word out so we can get more interested parties," he said. "We want to make that application that we submit on the last day of February be the most competitive application we can put out there."

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.

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