The City of Shrewsbury is weighing the best way to spend a $20,000 community development block grant after failing to receive any applicants for a housing improvement program.
The federal grant is administered by St. Louis County and requires that individual municipalities decide in advance how the money will be divided up.
Shrewsbury has previously dedicated $15,000 for street repairs and $5,000 for loans through the St. Louis County Housing Improvement Program (HIP), said Jonathan Greever, director of administration for Shrewsbury. He said the program provides low-interest loans of up to $5,000 for qualified residents to pay for repairs or upgrades to the “basic functionality” of their house, such as heating or cooling systems.
But no Shrewsbury residents have applied for the program so far this year, which Greever said leaves the board with a choice: either dedicate the money entirely to street repairs or risk foregoing the $5,000 if there are no applicants by year’s end.
“I would recommend either pushing hard on informing the community about the availability of HIP … or go with a 20-0 allocation,” Greever said.
However, several longer-serving board members said they thought the unused housing improvement money had been recovered by the city in previous years and asked Greever to confirm his assessment before a formal decision is made.
Ward 1 Alderman Elmer Kauffmann also cautioned that when the city had previously spent all the money on streets, residents had complained that it was “hogging” the grant.
“I would like to have something for the community,” he said.
Mayor Felicity Buckley said she didn’t have a strong feeling one way or the other, but said work on repairing the city’s streets would be a benefit for the entire community.