Cleburne Council to Consider Funding for Home Facade Improvements
The City of Cleburne, Texas is contemplating an expansion of their grant programs to include residential properties, inspired by an existing initiative for downtown buildings. Cleburne’s Economic Development Manager, Grady Easdon, recently presented this proposed grant program at a Cleburne City Council workshop.
The intended program would seek to alleviate the current shortage of homes and enhance the beauty of residences throughout the city. It aims to rejuvenate aging housing stocks, which has become an urgent issue due to an unexpected rise in mortgage interest rates, cost hikes, and shortages in building materials and labor, according to Easdon. The challenges in the supply chain have prompted many to invest in home improvements instead of purchasing new properties.
Easdon highlighted that city staff found multiple Texas cities that have successfully implemented programs offering financial incentives for home upgrades. The intended benefits of such programs include boosting neighborhood aesthetics, promoting code compliance, increasing neighborhood pride, and potentially improving energy efficiency through structural upgrades.
According to Easdon, a significant portion (71%) of Cleburne’s 11,626 houses were built before 1990, indicating the potential need for revitalization. He referenced the city’s successful downtown building grant program as a model, where building owners receive up to $5,000 in reimbursements for property improvements. The proposed residential facade grant would function in a similar fashion, guided by regulations in the Texas Local Government Code.
The proposed program is not a straightforward giveaway, Easdon emphasized. It’s a reimbursement program, necessitating homeowners to invest some of their own resources in their properties. The amount available for homeowners would depend on variables like the age of the home and the cost of the improvements.
Cleburne’s Mayor, Scott Cain, expressed support for the concept, appreciating that it necessitates homeowners to be financially involved in their property upgrades. Easdon suggested initiating a pilot program for a year with a budget of $40,000 to evaluate the program’s effectiveness. This initial funding would be sourced from monies previously allocated to the city’s infill lot impact fee rebate program.
Mayor Cain suggested targeting the most needy city neighborhoods initially if the program is approved, possibly integrating the grant program with initiatives like Operation Cleburne Pride. Such collaborations, which provide free home repairs to residents in need, have been paused due to Covid-19, but Cain hopes to revive them soon.
City council members seemed to favor the proposed residential facade grant program, but no official vote was cast during Tuesday’s meeting. Councilman Mike Mann suggested a potential 10% grant increase if homeowners employ local vendors for their improvements.
Mayor Cain voiced his support to move forward, stating, “Let’s put something together and roll with it.” The proposal is expected to return for an official council vote soon.
Meanwhile, in other city business, the council hired Childress Engineers for services related to the Cleburne Station Parkway extension, recognized Cleburne Library Director Tina Dunham as the city’s STARS Program Super Star of 2022, and approved funds for the purchase of a new bus for Cletran.