By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
The one-cent sales tax has been utilized for many city improvements since its implementation in 1994. Housing and Community Development has chosen to use its portion of the funds to continue to invest in Liberal’s most valuable resource – its citizens.
During the Dec. 22 city commission meeting, Housing and Community Development Director Karen LaFreniere requested the commission approve the continuation of the departments housing programs, most of which are funded by the one-cent sales tax.
Such programs have been placed into effect to aid Liberal homeowners in repairs, safety features and down payment assistance.
Senior Housing Opportunities, SAFE At HOME, Paint the Town and the HOME 2 Rehabilitation Program all offer plans to promote curb appeal, weatherization issues and home safety.
According to LaFreniere, the SAFE At HOME program offers smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to city residents. All detectors are distributed free of charge to residents willing to fill out a simple application form.
Two-hundred smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors will be purchased and apportioned on a first come first serve basis, LaFreniere said. However, she added, Housing and Community Development is currently in the process of collecting bids from businesses and manufacturers.
“We will be getting them in some time after the first of the year,” LaFreniere said. “This year we will be offering detectors for the hearing impaired. There has been a need so we will be getting those in. They are rather expensive, but that is something we will have this year that we have not had in the past.”
LaFreniere announced during the Dec. 22 city commission meeting the department had been awarded a grant in the amount of $225,000 to benefit the HOME 2 Rehabilitation Program. The grant was submitted to Kansas Housing Resources in August. The terms of the grant require the City of Liberal to match $75,000 bringing the available total to $300,000.
The HOME 2 Rehabilitation Program, LaFreniere said, will use funds to assist local homeowners in bringing their dwellings up to code.
“The HOME 2 Rehabilitation Program is a rehab program,” LaFreniere said. “We are getting the grant but the program won’t start until we get everything finalized. It is a federal grant. It should start sometime after February, I believe.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the continuation of such programs. LaFreniere received encouragement and gratitude from commissioners regarding her enthusiasm with such programs.
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