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City to apply for 3rd round of NSP funds

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Commissioners agreed Tuesday night to allow the city of Covington to apply for $1.085 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding allocated to the county.

This is the third round of funding for the federal program. In anticipation of the county's decision, the Covington City Council approved Monday a resolution to apply for the funding, which it will use to help construct the residential portion of a mixed-use community building in Walker's Bend neighborhood.

This round of the NSP emphasizes providing rental housing and assisting very low-income households, said Scott Sirotkin, director of Development Services for Newton County. The county has had difficulty meeting low-income requirements for the first round of NSP funding, he said. Because of those factors, "We determined this grant is not as attractive to us as the original was, but it fits very well with the project the city is doing," he said.

The resolution authorizes the city to apply directly to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for the funding. The county will later consider allocating a portion of round one NSP dollars to the city for the project, as well as $545,000 in SPLOST funds.

The four-story building would be located at the entrance of Walker's Bend and would include 30 residential units on the top three floors and commercial space on the main floor.

The bottom floor would include meeting and classroom space for a job training and life skills program and the existing Covington Housing and Financial Counseling Program, along with a certified commercial kitchen that could be leased by the public, space for a small restaurant, an incubation space for start-up businesses and a community room.

The facility will cost an estimated $3.6 million. The city is applying for an $800,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to pay for the kitchen and incubator space. If the grant is approved and all expected funding sources come through from the county, total available funding would be $2,865,000. The remaining funds would come through a loan taken out by the Covington Housing Authority.