Citizens District Council Minutes 10-06-2009

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Citizen’s District Council Meeting
City of Muskegon CDBG
Conference Room 203
Muskegon, Michigan
Tuesday, October 6, 2009


The meeting was called to order by Patricia Montney at 5:35 p.m.


Roll call was taken by Liz Parker.

Present:             Patricia Montney, Ned Carter, Virgie Jackson, Thomas Pastoor,
                     Dan Rinsema-Sybenga, Addie Sanders-Randall, Amy Varnado,
                     Stephen Gawron

Excused:             Muhammad Hakeem

Staff Present:       Wilmern Griffin, Liz Parker


Amy Varnado made a motion to approve the minutes from the last meeting (September
15, 2009). Ned Carter seconded. Motion passed unanimously.


      CAPER

A copy of the 2008 – 2009 Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report
(CAPER) had previously been distributed to each CDC member. Wil Griffin asked if
anyone had any questions. Dan Rinsema-Sybenga asked if the Fair Housing Study had
been done. Wil advised it had been done and HUD had some questions on the
impediments that had to be clarified: income, family size and credit ratings. He stated
you will have these issues with the current economy as it is. The study was done by the
Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan. There are three different communities
involved with the study: Muskegon, Muskegon Heights and Norton Shores. Muskegon
and Muskegon Heights are similar vs. Norton Shores, but they are still three different
communities. The study has been sent to HUD and Wil is working on a response to
HUD’s questions.
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Wil Griffin then went through the objectives. He stated they didn’t build or rehab any
new houses as they already have four in inventory. The Lead Program helped in rental
rehab. The landlord originally paid $1,500 per unit. This was lowered to $1,000. They
also increased the amount of Lead work done from $8,000 to $12,000 per unit. These
changes increased the involvement of landlords in the Lead Program. Demolition was
slow last year but the goal was reached. Infrastructure guidelines changed for
improvements to the downtown area. Originally there was talk about 400 new jobs.
Dan Rinsema-Sybenga confirmed there were 155 full-time jobs that were not
construction (200 – 250) related. The 2005 – 2010 Consolidated Plan has met most of
the goals; many were achieved in 2005 – 2007. After that the economy changed and
it’s been slow reaching goals.

Operation R & R brought together people from various avenues of the City: education,
employment, religion and business to discuss what are the real issues. Operation R &
R works from the ground up.

For leveraging, the Lead Program received $150 from each homeowner who has Lead
abated from their home. This program has gone very well and landlord participation has
increased. There is a 10% credit from Keene Lumber and Weber lumber for all
materials used in the program. This credit goes back into the program. Job training
and education came from the Lead Program. CNS has a house on Apple Avenue that
was used for training. Pat Montney wanted to know if a contractor had to be certified to
do lead abatement. Wil Griffin advised her yes, they have to be certified. They must
take a three-day class for workers and a four-day class for supervisors. So far they
have trained about 60 – 70 people in Lead Abatement. Some have jobs with our Lead
contractors, some with other contractors and a few have become Lead contractors on
their own.

On page 18 the list of activities showed emergency repair went over budget because of
the very big need. There are more people finding themselves in need of this program
that wouldn’t have qualified before, but because of loss of a job, downsizing, etc., they
now need assistance.

Pat Montney asked about asbestos. Wil Griffin said they have a house at 940 Wood in
which he had to meet the asbestos contractor to have asbestos. It is not uncommon to
have asbestos removed in our Emergency Repair program before new furnaces can be
installed, especially when dealing with old octopus furnaces.

Dan Rinsema-Sybenga asked about CDBG and CHDOs with $202,000 funded vs.
$84,000 spent. Wil Griffin explained the CHDOs go through the HOME program, not
CDBG. Neighborhood Investment Corporation didn’t spend most of their money and
Community enCompass didn’t quite spend all of their money. Habitat for Humanity was
the only CHDO to spend it all. Wil said times are tight in the housing market.

Tom Pastoor said he was very interested in Operation R & R and wanted to know if it
was over and done with. Wil Griffin advised it wasn’t over with and he is looking into
when he can have another meeting as it’s been quite a while since the last meeting.
Tom said its great having these meetings but they only seem to scratch the surface on
some issues that were very important to people at the meeting, but then it appeared
there was no follow up or maybe it wasn’t intended for follow up. With the 2010 – 2015
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Consolidated Plan Tom would like to see how Operation R & R can be blended with it
so there can be input from individuals, neighborhood associations and other non-profit
groups such as goal setting and objectives they are trying to reach. Tom said he’s read
CAPERS from Flint, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo and they have some interesting
community development/community building activities that they are doing. Their
activities seem more in line with what our non-profits are doing. Grand Rapids has
increased neighborhood-based leadership and involvement. If that were one of our
goals he thinks our plan would look different than it does now. Wil Griffin said in the
past the Consolidated Plan included meetings at McLaughlin and Froebel schools and
City Hall to get a cross section of community. Unfortunately, they were not as well
attended as he would have liked. Actually Wil is required to have these meetings with a
cross-section of the community: housing/real estate developers, residents, non-profits
Request to do housing, real estate, residents and non-profits. Last plan had survey for
real estate people but they didn’t want to take part in it. There was a survey of the
larger businesses dealing with the issues of work force analysis, recruiting and quality of
workers. There was a survey of some schools. Pat Montney also mentioned there
were also Neighborhood Association surveys in the last Consolidated Plan.

Wil Griffin said other cities like Flint and Grand Rapids do more as far as allocating
activities out to non-profits, where our activities are in house. Only a certain percentage
of HOME funds can go to CHDOs. For CDBG it is not a requirement to give to non-
profits, but the maximum is 15%. If more is to be given, HUD needs to be asked for
permission. Wil said all these issues are something to look at when he starts the next
Consolidated Plan at the end of this year.

      NSPI

Per Wil Griffin, the City of Muskegon is the only city to be up and running with this grant.
MSHDA has put up some road blocks, but it’s also a learning process for them too as
NSP1 evolves. 940 Wood is the first project started. This year he will also be
rehabbing 1201 Ransom (corner of Ransom and Delaware), in the historical area, which
he acquired from the Land Bank. Wil handed out a picture of how the house currently
looks, including the fireplaces, and the architect’s drawings of how the house will look
after it has been rehabbed and possible floor plans. He has met with the Historical
Committee and will keep them in the loop as activities with the house progress.
Currently the house has not been approved for rehab by the Historical Committee. The
house has three fireplaces and was converted into a two-unit house. Wil wants to
convert the house back to a single-family house. The income qualification for this
program is 120% AMI, which is more than for our HOME program (80%). This
increases the chances of a family getting a house and increases the market. This
program should bring more middle-class homeowners into the neighborhoods.


      Housing Specialist Position

After 20 years in the position, Ardyce Haken retired on August 28. Wil Griffin said he is
in the process of getting a replacement for the position. The posting for internal
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recruitments is posted and hopefully they will find have candidates by the end of the
month. If no one is qualified, then the City will look outside. Wil gave a handout of the
job posting.

      2010 – 2011 CDBG/HOME Allocation

Wil Griffin stated he does not know how much money will be available for the 2010 –
2011 grant year for CDBG/HOME. He is still waiting to hear if he was awarded the
NSP2 grant. Ned Carter wanted to know if it was possible that we would not get any
money for NSP2. Wil said it’s a competitive grant and it is possible to be turned down
and receive no funds. The minimum to apply for was $5 million, which is what Wil
applied for. He is hoping to hear about the award before Thanksgiving.


Pat Montney asked Steve Gawron if anyone had read her emails regarding the Leisure
Services Summer Adventure Playground budget cut and he said yes and it was
discussed. She also wanted to know about the trusts and funds used to maintain the
parks. Steve said those funds would still be used to maintain the parks. He also said
that even though the Summer Adventure Program was cut, not all of the youth
programs were cut. He said this has been looked at before, especially with dwindling
use. He said there were complaints that the kids come, eat and leave and there was
dwindling attendance.

Dan Rinsema-Sybenga mentioned the restaurant, Courses, at the Baker Culinary
Institute is now open for lunches from 11:30 – 2:30, Monday thru Wednesday. The
coffee shop is also open and there is an open house on Saturday, October 10. There
are about 25 – 30 full-time people working at the Institute.


There should not be a November or December meeting unless something comes up or
Wil has heard about the NSP2 grant.

Patricia Montney adjourned the meeting at 6:20 p.m.

Respectively submitted,

Liz Parker
Community and Neighborhood Services
City of Muskegon

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