Grants lost and gained

From Sierra Wave Media
By Katie Vane

July 5, 2013Mammoth Lakes Town Council recently approved a Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) Grant Application to the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) recommended by non-profit Mammoth Lakes Housing for up to $700,000 that would go toward First-Time Homebuyer Programs for the town workforce.

However, the approval came on the heels of a loss in potential funding of $1.1 million through HCD, after the Town failed to properly file the single audit with the State Controller as part of its application.

In April of this year, the Town applied for funding provided by HCD Community Development Block Grant Funds to accomplish three goals: an economic development study, down payment assistance for low income first time homeowners, and what Halftery described as “much needed rehabilitation” for the Glass Mountain apartments. Unfortunately, according to Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez, this was also “the first year that the State Controller’s office required a separate, online application.” The Town Finance Department submitted the necessary application, but two weeks late, Marysheva-Martinez said. The State therefore deemed the application ineligible from participating in the competition for $1.1 million in funding.

“There is no guarantee that we would have been funded,” said Halferty, “but we felt pretty confident that we’d be competitive.” She added, “If I had to guess, and just based on my knowledge of the Town Finance Department, it got lost in the mix. The Town has lost some staff, there are a lot of things to be done, and that one just slipped.”

Fortunately, the Town remains eligible for funding for the $700,000 in HOME Grant money, which MLH plans to use for down payment assistance and silent second mortgages for low-income households in Mammoth.

On Monday, Bishop City Council also approved an application for a $700,000 HOME Grant, as did Mono County earlier this month, bringing the total possible funds to $2.1 million. The State has informed MLH to expect a response in December of this year; “I’m hopeful,” Halferty said.

Mammoth Lakes Housing (MLH) is a private, non-profit organization established in 2003 by the Town to provide opportunities to develop new, affordable housing for the local community. Thus far, MLH has succeeded in building 78 rental units, 48 ownership units, and rehabilitating other units, including the Star apartments. According to MLH Executive Director Jennifer Halferty, MLH has utilized $16.5 million in grant funding over the course of its lifetime.

Because MLH is not a jurisdiction, the responsibility for grant applications resides mostly with the Town. “By and large, we depend upon our jurisdictions in Mono County to apply,” said Halferty. “That’s how we go about getting funding.”