WEST FRANKFORT — West Frankfort’s Crosswalk Community Action Agency checked off another box Tuesday on its way to providing more Southern Illinois families with the option of making quality of life upgrades to their homes.
During its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the West Frankfort City Council voted to approve a resolution to support Crosswalk’s community development block grant application. This is one of several steps the organization needs to complete before filing its application with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity by Dec. 15, said Jake Wach, Crosswalk's housing specialist for the Housing Rehabilitation Program. This has to happen in each community he is hoping to cover with the grant money.
In addition to the council’s support, Wach said he has to have to have at least 10 people show up for a public hearing and for every house he writes the grant for, he has to have another three that would qualify. So, Wach said for the 10 houses he is hoping to receive the grant money for, he needs to have at least 30 potentially qualifying homes to choose from — this information comes from surveys Wach and his team conduct almost yearly.
“We are right on track,” he said of his progress in applying for $450,000 to help renovate at least 10 homes in West Frankfort, Orient and Zeigler.
Wach said once the money becomes available, residents in the selected neighborhoods — in West Frankfort this means from the train tracks east to North Jefferson Street and from St. Louis to a block past East Fifth — will submit applications to Crosswalk, and Wach and his team will evaluate them. Wach said for this particular grant, the money goes to help prevent “slum and blight.”
“They do have to be deemed as health- and safety-related,” Wach also said of the qualifications.
Wach said applying for CDBGs is not a short process.
“It’s an extremely long process,” Wach said of the average one-and-a-half-year start to finish timeline.
“I started these surveys since February,” he said of his current application, adding that he won’t know until April or May about what funding he has been awarded.
From here, he said there are some other hoops to jump through before they can begin actually approving homes for renovations.
West Frankfort Mayor Tom Jordan said the council was happy to lend their support to the grant process and is thankful for the investment in his town and in the region.
“In our community, in Southern Illinois, it becomes more difficult as the years go by for people to maintain their homes,” he said, especially for the elderly and disabled. “It’s just a great program and we are glad to participate in it.”