A variety of residential concerns, including the need for assistance with home repairs through the emergency home repair program, were discussed during the Community Development Block Grant meeting last week.

Sabina Craig, assistant director with the Aiken's Engineering and Utilities Department, said staff explained to residents that funds through the Department of Housing and Urban Development cover only so much.

“Monies are allocated to different area low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and families,” Craig said. “The program gets a small portion of that funding ... and no heat has been a very big issue, or inoperable windows. Some other concerns included sidewalks and potholes.”

The meeting was held last Thursday at the Smith-Hazel Meeting Room and was open to the public to gain input on how residents would like to see the grant funding spent. Grant funding begins during the budget year, which starts July 2014 and runs through June 2015. Craig said the department received a little more than $175,000 last year, but every year funds decrease 2 to 3 percent.

Since the City is considered an entitlement city, staff review funding applications each year, and the funds are allocated to assist low- and moderate- income neighborhoods and families.

Entitlement cities are those with populations of at least 50,000, and the grant funds are used to carry out a wide range of projects including emergency repair programs and the hiring of contractors of up to $5,000 to work on heating systems and leaky roofs.

Although the meetings have concluded, Craig said it's still important for residents to voice their concerns and comments.

“It is very important for citizens to voice their opinion and to give their input regarding the funds,” Craig said. “It's helpful to us to know where the funds should be spent and if we don't hear from the public, we can't always meet their needs.”

For more information, call 803-642-7606.

Maayan Schechter is the city beat reporter with Aiken Standard. An Atlanta native, she has a mass communications-journalism degree from the University of North Carolina Asheville. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.