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Housing, street improvements among funding priorities for Manatee County community development block grants

Manatee County nonprofits attended a Community Development Block Grant orientation on Monday morning in the county administration building. 
 CLAIRE ARONSON/Bradenton Herald
Manatee County nonprofits attended a Community Development Block Grant orientation on Monday morning in the county administration building. CLAIRE ARONSON/Bradenton Herald

MANATEE -- With the help of community development block grants, Manatee County Habitat for Humanity has been able to provide affordable homes to more residents.

The nonprofit, which is receiving CDBG money from Bradenton to purchase a few lots in the city, is hoping to receive more grant money next year to get even more residents into homes, said Diana Shoemaker, the organization's executive director.

"We are continuing to look for funding opportunities in the area of affordable housing, community development and economic development," she said.

Manatee County Habitat for Humanity was one of several nonprofits at Manatee County and Bradenton's CDBG workshop Monday. CDBG funds can be used toward infrastructure, homeowner rehabilitation, public facilities improvements and public service projects, according to grant information.

County and city officials explained the application process, including reporting requirements, reimbursement procedures and agency responsibilities.

For the 2016-17 fiscal year, Manatee County has been allocated an estimated $2.23 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the three funds: HOME Investment Partnership, CDBG and Emergency Solutions Grant funds. Applications for the funds are due 5 p.m. March 14.

Bradenton is expected to received approximately $385,000 in CDBG funds and city grant applications are due March 28.

"We try to do a very large public outreach," said Bill O'Shea, project manager in the community development division of the county's neighborhood services department. "It's supposed to be what the people want. Each year we have to do an action plan

and that's why you are here today."

As Manatee County is in the final year of the five-year consolidated plan, this year's funding priorities are those in the plan that have either not been addressed at all or ones that need more money to be allocated, O'Shea said. The county's funding priorities include public facilities, employment/job training, housing assistance and street improvements. Bradenton's funding priorities are affordable housing, homeless needs and economic development.

"We have to make sure we get the money out," said Denise Thomas, the county's housing and community development coordinator. "The whole purpose of being here is to provide a service. You got to know what you are going to do and be able to do it."

The projects are selected based on citizen input. Residents can share their opinion about what should be included in the 2016-17 annual action plan Thursday from 1-3 p.m. at South Manatee Library, 6081 26th St. W., Bradenton, and March 10 from 6-7 p.m. at Tillman Elementary School, 1415 29th St. E., Palmetto.

For information, call 941-749-3029.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.

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