Sunset Hills board OKs pact for grant funds

By BURKE WASSON

After denying a chance in May to approve roughly $5,000 apiece in grants to the owners of 15 Sunset Manor homes in need of repair, the Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen reversed that decision last week.

Aldermen voted 6-1 on June 27 to approve an ordinance for a Municipal Housing and Community Development Cooperation Agreement set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and administered by St. Louis County.

The federal block grant funds will give $5,000 apiece to five homes in 2007, five homes in 2008 and five homes in 2009.

Only homeowners who earn less than $50,000 per year for a family of four qualify for the federal grant funds. County officials have informed aldermen that the homes would receive money on a first-come, first-served basis and that city officials would not be allowed to choose exactly which homes would benefit.

Aldermen in other nearby cities like Crestwood and Rock Hill also have approved these grants for homeowners in their cities within the last month.

Ward 4 Alderman Donald Parker was the lone no vote against the grants in Sunset Hills last week, and Ward 2 Alderman John Littlefield was absent.

Aldermen previously had voted 4-3 in opposition to the grant program on May 23. Ward 1 Alderman Michael Sawicki, Ward 4 Alderman Frank Gregory, Littlefield and Parker voted in opposition.

Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy, Ward 2 Alderman Thomas Hrastich and Ward 3 Alderman Lynn D. Flowers voted for the agreement. Ward 3 Alderman Jan Hoffmann was absent from that meeting.

The hang-up that prevented Gregory from voting in favor of the housing grant bill in May was resolved last week as aldermen voted 7-0 to approve an ordinance barring excessive force by police in response to non-violent demonstrations.

Gregory previously told the Call that if aldermen were to approve such a measure for police enforcement, he would vote in favor of the grants and did last week.