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Commission declines federal grant for HUD funding
Fair housing assessment concerns cited by board
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During Tuesday’s work session, Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-0 to decline a federal grant for 2017 from the Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Program with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Prior to the decision, County Attorney Ken Jarrard gave an update of his legal opinions on the county accepting the grant.

One issue with the funding, he said, was a required assessment of fair housing in the county. Previously, applicants had to do an analysis of impediments to fair housing, but a recent change to rules require the assessment.

“Now we have to do what’s called an assessment of fair housing, which is much more involved, which has a unique set of regulations that encompass not only what may be impediments to our needs in Forsyth County, but also how Forsyth County fits in the region as a whole,” Jarrard said.

Other factors required in the assessment were determining which groups were affected by lack of housing, how local policies affect class groups to access low property housing and wwhich groups face higher cost and housing burdens compared to other groups.

The grant would have also required a five-year consolidated plan to address issues, which Jarrard said he was concerned could possibly be used against the county.

Concerns over enforcement from the department were also raised.

It was estimated that the county would have received about $760,000 for 2017.

The county is eligible to participate in the program in the future.

Commissioners had the opportunity to pursue funding last year but did not approve it. Forsyth County became eligible for the funds once the federal census found the county to have a population of more than 200,000.

Forsyth County has previously received $1.3 million in competitive funding from the grant in 1985, 1990 and 1995.

Funds could be used for certain allowable activities like acquisitions of property, housing, special economic development activities and public facilities for buildings that are not part of the “general conduct of government,” such as recreation, health and senior centers.

Officials with the process spoke to the commission at a meeting in July.

Commissioners had planned to conduct a video call with political commentator and author Stanley Kurtz, who has been critical of the fair housing regulation.

After the decision to deny funding was made, commissioners voted 3-2, with Commissioners Jim Boff and Todd Levent opposed, to remove the item from the agenda.