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Low-income areas to receive boost

Andy Ouriel • Oct 16, 2013 at 3:15 PM

For the first time in three years, Sandusky officials received a federal grant to improve homes in lower-income neighborhoods.

And city commissioners rejoiced Tuesday when voting 7-0 to accept $250,000 in Community Housing Improvement funds.

“Kudos (to staff) on following through on the fight in getting this program back,” city commissioner Pervis Brown said.

City officials, however, needed to “fight” for grant funding after federal authorities banned Sandusky from applying for this grant or receiving program dollars.

Beginning in the mid-2000s, city officials approved contractors who either performed shoddy work or neglected to make necessary repairs at various homes.

The malfeasance affected about 60 homeowners, many of whom were ultimately displaced. The total cost to city taxpayers was at least $1.4 million, an amount local officials aren’t sure if they’ll be reimbursed for or not.

Rather than charging negligent contractors, area officials handed off the case to the Office of Inspector General, a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The federal probe is in its fifth year, with seemingly no end in sight.

City officials, meanwhile, voiced no concern about the sluggish probe, or about the people who have suffered in the fallout.

“I believe the city went back and made all that all right,” said ex officio mayor John Hamilton, when responding to a question posed to commissioners Tuesday.

Roger Harpel, is one of the residents who fell victim to the housing scandal.

“The city has never given me a reason as to why they never rehabilitated my house, even with all the documentation I have,” Harpel said. “I got no place to go.”

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