Loading up lobster traps for a fishing on the docks in Belfast, Maine. Photo by Ramona du Houx

April 30, 2021

By Ramona du Houx

The City of Belfast is currently working to secure a grant from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Housing Assistance Program on behalf of Developers Collaborative, a developer that is planning to construct new housing at the site of City of Belfast’s former public works facility at 115 Congress Street.

“Developers Collaborative’s proposed housing development for 115 Congress Street is the current top priority for the City of Belfast, and securing this grant is one important way in which the City can support this vitally needed project,” said Belfast Mayor Eric Sanders.

This federal program can award grants of up to $500,000 that can be used for the rehabilitation of occupied or vacant multi-family housing units and for the conversion of non-residential structures to multi-family housing, but which also can be used for paying for soft (non-construction) costs related to the construction of new housing for low- and moderate-income persons. The developer ultimately receiving the benefit of the grant must supply matching funds in at least a 5:1 ratio (for every grant dollar received, the developer must provide 20 cents of matching funds).

If awarded, Developers Collaborative would use these funds to help pay for a portion of the soft costs they would be incurring associated with their development at 115 Congress Street; this could include activities and items such as permits/fees, engineering services/surveys, architectural services, environmental reports, appraisals, and market studies. Additionally, this grant would increase Developers Collaborative’s amount of below market capital for this project, which would have the dual benefit of improving the project’s overall financials and increasing their score on their upcoming housing tax credit application to MaineHousing, where an allocation of tax credits is absolutely critical for the project to proceed.

The City of Belfast will be holding a public hearing on this grant application on Tuesday, May 4th, 2021, as part of its regularly scheduled City Council meeting, which begins at 6:30pm on that date. Public comments will be solicited at this hearing and will be submitted as part of the application. Comments may be submitted in writing to Thomas Kittredge, Economic Development Director for the City of Belfast, Belfast City Hall, 131 Church Street, Belfast Maine, 04915, or via email to: economicdevelopment@cityofbelfast.org at any time prior to the public hearing.

The submission deadline for this application is Friday, May 7th, 2021. The City of Belfast would expect to learn whether or not they had been selected for a grant during June of 2021, and the funds would likely be made available in July of 2021. As with many other CDBG programs, this one will be expected to be quite competitive, as there is only a total of $1,500,000 that will be available in 2021 for this program.

Each year the State of Maine receives a formula allocation of funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development that is distributed under the Community Development Block Grant Program. This program is administered by the Maine Office of Community Development and is used to assist units of local government in various community projects in areas ranging from infrastructure, housing, and downtown revitalization, to public facilities and economic development.

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