COVINGTON - The City of Covington has created a helpful new program that provides qualified residents with contractor resources to keep their property up to City Property Maintenance Code standards. The Program, funded by the City's Community Development Block Grant funds and introduced this year, is called the Code Enforcement Hardship Repair Program. It is only available to property owners who have been issued code citations by the City's Code Enforcement officers for an existing breach of regulation; residents cannot independently apply to the program.
Here is how the program works: A City Code Enforcement Officer issues a citation to a property that is in violation of the City's Code of Ordinances; common breaches include neglected gutters, deteriorated accessory structures like detached garages, fences and walls, and paint or other exterior elements on a building that has visible neglect. The owner or occupant of the property appeals the citation by going before the Code Board, who meets twice a month. If they claim the reason their building is in disrepair is due to some sort of hardship, the Code Board will then issue a referral letter that permits application to the Hardship Program. The applicant has two weeks from receipt of the referral letter to submit the application to the City's Department of Development who will conduct a full review through its Programs and Strategic Projects (PSP) Office.
The review process is rigorous; not all individuals will qualify and not all applicants will be approved based on the program guidelines. If approved, the PSP Office will then act as Project Manager and see that the property is repaired up to Code standards. Natalie Gardner, the PSP Manager, says that the City will soon put out a unit price bid for a Contractor to do all of the work required for this Program. All interested parties who wish to receive the RFP should contact her directly at 859-292-2313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before this Program existed, the Code Board had no way of vetting property owners who claimed hardship. Now under the new program, when a property owner claims hardship, they will submit information about their financial status for a full review. If accepted and the project is approved, the program will fund the repairs and remove fees accrued during this period. If denied, property owners will follow the typical process with the Code Enforcement Board.
There are limitations to the Program and the application process is thorough. Eligibility does not guarantee approval. Individual projects must not exceed a cost estimate of $24,000 and the total program pool is limited to $153,000, which will be disseminated on a first-come first served basis, until the end of the City's fiscal year June 30, 2014. Applicants must not be over 50% AMI (average median income), a common HUD benchmark, and be in good standing with the city. A priority is placed on serving the elderly and disabled applicants, also a HUD priority.
The Program is the result of a creative solution born out of collaboration between the City's Community Services Division - the city office that manages Code Enforcement - and the Programs and Strategic Projects Division - the city office that manages HUD funds issued to the City - in response to the high number of persons claiming hardship to the Code Board upon appealing citations and a strategy to use federal funds for the greatest impact.
Krista Mills, Field Office Director for the Kentucky HUD office, stated, "Property owners who want their homes to be an asset in the community but do not have the money to make that happen, can now participate in the revitalization of their neighborhoods. This program serves the best interests of everyone involved, and I applaud the City of Covington for its innovative, sensible use of CDBG funds."
For specific inquiries about the program, please call 859-292-2323