Grand County Commissioners considered various aspects of different grants at their Jan. 3 meeting, including an award for the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah to buy a software program and a revision to the evaluation process for existing county grant programs; there was also a public hearing on a Community Development Block Grant for which the county is eligible to apply.

Software for HASU

The Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah manages low-income housing through various programs, and has taken on the task of qualifying applicants for the county’s affordable housing programs including the High Density Housing Overlay. The program requires that HDHO units be owned by people employed in Grand County, and verifying eligibility is an increasingly large task as more HDHO units are built. Commissioners approved a request for $18,000 to pay for a pilot year of a deed restriction management software called Streamline, from company Rock Solid, for HASU’s use. Money for the program will come out of a $200,000 Rural County grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, which Grand County was awarded this past fall.

HASU Development Specialist Laura Harris said she is currently managing eligibility for about 15 units, but she anticipates another 40 to 50 units being added within the next year—aside from another estimated 100 units to be added with the development of the Viewgate apartments, another HDHO development slated for the coming year.

“It’s a huge job,” said Commissioner Mary McGann. “If we can’t keep on top of our deed restrictions, all the work we’re doing for affordable housing will be for naught.”

Commissioners questioned the high price tag, but Economic Development department staff said that they had considered proposals from several software companies and determined that the Streamline program was worth the price.

“Rock Solid… is the industry leader in this right now,” said Ben Alter, economic development specialist for Grand County.

Event grant programs

This past summer, Grand County rolled out two new local grant programs: the Special Event grant, which is meant to assist new and existing organizations develop tourism during low visitation times of year; and the Community Event grant, which is meant to help in the development of community-focused events. Those grants are the latest in a suite of new grant programs, which included the STAR business grant and the MOAB! advertising grant earlier this year.

As Economic Development staff learn from the implementation of each program, they are continuing to refine the process for each grant. Economic Development Director August Granath and Alter proposed a change in the evaluation process for the two event grants, using a committee to consider applications and determine awards, rather than the Travel Council Advisory Board. The board has an increasing workload, and staff found that the committee model worked well for the other grants the county has implemented. The commission approved the change to the evaluation process.

Community Development Block Grant

Grand County is eligible to apply for a Community Development Block Grant, a federally funded program administered through the Utah Housing and Community Development Division. Grand County entities have been awarded the grant in the past for projects like the Windgate Village affordable housing project, implemented through the Housing Authority of Southeastern Utah, and updating county facilities to be ADA compliant.

Eligible projects could include things like public works such as water and sewer lines or fire stations, or provision of public services such as homeless shelters or food banks.

During a public hearing on the grant at the Jan. 3 meeting, HASU staff presented a proposal to apply for Community Block Grant funding to install utilities at a tract in the Arroyo Crossing development.

Arroyo Crossing is a new subdivision being developed by the Moab Area Community Land Trust. The Trust owns the land in perpetuity and deed restricts homes in the neighborhood to certain income brackets; there are also limits on resale of the homes, to ensure they are affordable in perpetuity. HASU is building many of the new homes in the subdivision. HASU Director Ben Riley proposed that the county sponsor the organization’s application for a Community Block Grant to install water, power and sewer in a tract in Arroyo Crossing that will likely be the site of 25 to 30 townhome lots.

No other comments were made during the public hearing. Applications for the grant will need to be submitted by the end of the month, with the signature of the commission chair.