Armstrong residents slow responding to surveys needed for grant application
Lack of response to income surveys may keep some communities out of the running for grants to fund work such as sewer extensions, water line replacement, street paving and other municipal projects next year.
The surveys — needed to determine which projects to include when it is time to apply for Community Development Block Grants — are not coming back to the Armstrong County development department as quickly as officials had hoped.
“We need the surveys returned,” said Carmen Johnson, assistant director of the county’s community development division. “We haven’t received a really good response, so we sent out second letters and survey forms to those who haven’t responded.”
The surveys have gone to about a dozen Armstrong communities to collect basic household and income information. That information is used to prioritize community projects the county will include in an application for the block grants next year. Because of the slow response in getting surveys, the county has received an extension from January to March to apply for the grants.
To be eligible for CDBG money, 51 percent of residents in an area have to be in the low- to moderate-income range — earning about $30,000 to $45,000 a year, depending on the number of individuals in a family.
The deadline to respond to the surveys, which were sent out last month, is Nov. 14.
“It could be possible we’d send out a third mailing, depending on how many surveys we receive,” Johnson said.
If that does not work, the county will ask municipalities to send someone door-to-door to collect the data. “If we don’t get enough even door-to-door, then those municipalities would not be eligible for project funding,” she said.
Johnson speculates that some people may be hesitant to provide income information to a government agency.
“We’re not asking for exact income. All of the information is kept confidential in our office,” she said.
Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1315, or [email protected].