AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Amarillo City Council will consider adopting a new cost-share program to help repair sidewalks in the San Jacinto Neighborhood.
The program, if approved, would use funds from the San Jacinto Neighborhood Association to relieve the burden on low-income households.
Emily Koller, the City’s assistant director of planning, said because property owners in Amarillo are responsible for the maintenance and repair of damaged sidewalks, and sidewalks in the neighborhood are in poor shape, the SJNA has made the cost-share program a high priority item.
“Funding must be made available for the program to be active and so right now, the San Jacinto plan area would be the only active funded program and the neighborhood association has allocated $200,000 of their neighborhood planning Initiative money to go to this program,” said Koller. “Other neighborhood planners could choose to do this if they wanted to. There aren’t any plans right now.”
Koller said if the City received some grant funding or funding from another source, the program could be open to all neighborhood plan areas in Amarillo.
“The ordinance permits a 50% cost-share for residential properties, but it allows a neighborhood association to adopt an additional policy where they could further define criteria and that’s exactly what San Jacinto has done,” she said.
According to Koller, the SJNA wants to help owner-occupied households in the neighborhood first.
The SJNA is offering to cover 100% of costs for very low-income households in this initial round of funding.
“So, they are going to have to prove that they meet that income qualification, those are based on HUD’s area income requirements,” she continued, “But if you didn’t want to prove your income limits, then documentation isn’t required and you can still apply for the 50% cost share.”
She said they will also consider tenant-occupied properties, but they want to limit it to property owners who own no more than three in the neighborhood.
Koller said the SJNA will review applications first and then send them to the City.
“The payment agreements are made through the City for 12 or 18 months. There’s no interest that’s charged. They’re just able to pay this off over time,” said Koller. “And if an unpaid balance exists at the end of the payment period, late fees would be assessed.”
She said the agreements will be secured by a lien and released upon final payment.
At a community workshop on Tuesday, May 17, Kathryn Traves, the president of the SJNA, said nearly a dozen people had already applied for the program.
“The next step is the city will be doing estimates of cost for the residents and then they’ll have to sign, you know, a contract,” said Traves. “As residents pay to get their sidewalks repaired, that money will go back into the neighborhood for other projects.”
The City’s capital projects and development engineering department will oversee a contract to complete the work.
“I have sidewalks that are so badly in need to repair, it’s ridiculous,” said John Boone, a resident of San Jacinto Heights. “For someone who’s poor like me, you know, it means a lot to have some assistance in getting that done.”
At the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday, May 10, they approved a first hearing for the ordinance with a 5-0 vote. It would have to pass its second reading as well.
Traves said applications can be picked up at Aunt Eek’s Books and Curiosities at 2900 6th Ave. or filled out online at the SNJA website.