Originally created 06/18/97

Aiken wins $281,000 grant to improve housing, streets



AIKEN -- The city of Aiken received annual funding Tuesday to improve streets, houses and parks, but this year's allocation includes a $4,000 cut.

Aiken received a $281,000 Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund the demolition of dilapidated structures, rehabilitate houses and improve city streets.

Last year's grant totaled $285,000.

"Citizens need to become more aware that federal cuts mean cuts in community development programs," City Planner Karan Carter said.

Ms. Carter said the city has been receiving the grants since 1994, and each year they've decreased. In 1994, the city was awarded $290,000, she said.

The $281,000 will be used to fund various projects: $30,000 to demolish condemned homes; $151,000 to fix up houses belonging to low-income residents; $40,000 to put in water fountains, fence in basketball courts and put in another parking lot at Eustis Park, located on Church Street; $30,000 to pay city administrative costs; $25,000 to repair sidewalks and put in street lights and shrubbery on Hampton Avenue; and $5,000 for a contingency fund.

In January, about 26 people were on a waiting list to have their houses rehabilitated, city officials said. Some had been waiting more than a year because funds hadn't been available.

Housing rehabilitation can include rewiring or putting in storm windows, new roofing or new floors.

The city has rehabilitated 16 houses in Aiken since 1994 at a cost of about $180,000.