It didn't take Radford, Virginia, long to figure out how HUD Community Development Block Grant funds could best serve its community.
A city of almost 16,000 in Virginia's New River Valley, Radford is a newcomer to the CDBG program, first designated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget as an "entitlement community" along with other Virginia communities of Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Harrisonburg and Winchester in late 2003 and first received funds in late 2004.
"As a full-service city government," says Radford City Manager Anthony W. Cox, "our resources are always pulled one hundred different ways in order to meet one hundred different urgent needs. Fortunately, our designation as a CDBG entitlement community and the funds that accompany that designation have enabled us to meet one of the most frequently overlooked but most essential priorities in maintaining Radford's quality of life - housing."
With the approval of the Radford City Council and with the collaboration of local contractors, the City has established a Home Repair Program which provides for grants of up to $5,000 in repairs for income eligible families with additional funds available in special cases. The most prevalent needs to date, adds Cox, have been projects to improve accessibility and repair roofs.
"Radford could be a meteorological laboratory for the Weather Channel," Cox says. "We get snow and rain, ice and flooding, hurricanes and tropical storms, everything but frogs falling from the sky. As a result, our housing stock takes a beating. CDBG is helping us repair the damage Ol' Man Weather does each year."
Radford already has completed work on 22 homes with another two waiting for the weather to break. "No doubt about it," says Cox, "thanks to CDBG, we're in full swing."