State housing rehab program announced 7.8.09

Written by David Green.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has unveiled plans to use more than $300 million in new federal funds to spur development and rehabilitation of multifamily housing throughout the state.

 The U.S. Department of Treasury announced the first round of federal funding recipients May 22 to Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas and Puerto Rico, with Michigan receiving $78 million as a first installment. Michigan earlier this year was among the first states in the nation to outline how it intends to allocate American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding legislation that was signed into law Feb. 17.

 MSHDA’s proposals for ARRA funds could create an estimated 12,000 jobs, renovate 16,000 housing units and generate $800 million in statewide development activity, said MSHDA Executive Director Keith Molin.

MSHDA officials also announced plans to distribute an additional $22 million in ARRA funds through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP).

HUD’s HPRP program targets two Michigan populations: those who are currently in housing but are at risk of becoming homeless and need short-term assistance; and those residing in shelters or on the street needing longer-term assistance in order to obtain and sustain housing.

Michigan’s homeless population increased by 10 percent over the past year. The number of homeless people in Michigan grew from 79,940 in 2007 to 86,189 in 2008, the second annual MSHDA “State of Homelessness in Michigan” report shows. The report shows 76 percent of the state’s homeless citizens are homeless because they cannot find affordable housing. The average income of a homeless Michigan family is $730 per month, according to the report.  

The state housing agency’s “Save the Dream” campaign to prevent foreclosure was recently recognized by the Public Relations Society of America for outstanding public service. Since the campaign’s launch, contacts by Michigan homeowners seeking assistance from MSHDA foreclosure prevention counselors have tripled. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has enabled Michigan to receive $3 million in federal grants to boost efforts to prevent foreclosures, including legal assistance funds and adding more homeownership counselors than ever before to advise Michigan citizens in danger of foreclosure.

“Home ownership is the building block of strong families, strong schools and strong communities,” said Mary Townley, Director of MSHDA’s Homeownership Division.  “Unfortunately, in Michigan and across the country, the home foreclosure problem is a crisis that affects far too many homeowners.”

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    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
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    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
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    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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