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Vienna Housing program : a PlanFirst community success

During the Greater Dooly comprehensive planning process, community stakeholders compiled a list of potential issues facing Dooly County. The first issue identified was the lack of a variety of housing types and the deteriorating conditions of some existing housing. Once identified, the housing issue was addressed in several ways, including:
•The Greater Dooly Comprehensive Plan Goal 1: To ensure the provision of a sufficient supply and variety of sound, safe, and affordable housing facilities for all residents of the community.
•Vienna Urban Redevelopment Plan- Implementation of this goal was set in motion by utilizing a number of approaches identified in the City’s STWP.
• An intergovernmental agreement with the Dooly County Building Inspector to implement a permitting and inspection process; adopted in 2008.
•In 2009, Vienna became a GICH Community and, using the Greater Dooly Comprehensive Plan as a guide, a work plan was established by the local GICH Team made up of a cross section of the community.
•City officials have also taken a more aggressive approach against neighborhood blight by revisiting the City’s Code, making changes where needed, and more strictly enforcing the code.
•Next on the agenda was to determine the condition of the City’s existing housing and this was done via a grant funded City- Wide Housing Assessment and assistance from River Valley Regional Commission staff. The study revealed that 2% of the City’s housing stock were dilapidated structures and 24% were substandard.

Funding for housing improvements came from a variety of sources, including: CHIP Grant funding for 2011, 12, 13 and 14; GEFA Weatherization Assistance Program; USDA 504 Housing Grants, and the USDA Housing Preservation Grant Program. This resulted in a total investment of $1,323,208 in local housing improvements. Vienna was awarded a CDBG in the amount of $284,877 for rehabilitation of outdated, overcrowded, and failing sewer infrastructure in 3 neighborhoods. And, recently, the City was awarded another CDBG in the amount of $500,000 for sewer improvements that will benefit 168 households.

An added result of the neighborhood improvements and code enforcement is 2 recycling collection stations that have been set up in Vienna for local usage. Citizens are now taking pride in their community and taking an active role in keeping the City clean and attractive.
With the expansion of one of the local industries and the prospect of another industry in the near future, City officials are currently speaking with a housing developer about potential infill development of work-force housing. This project proves a small city with a population of 4,000 does not have to have a large scale new housing development or a large local budget to be successful in improving the housing conditions in a community. Many resources are available to help address these issues. It just takes someone dedicated to seeking out these resources and then assisting property owners in applying for the assistance. Revitalization is an ongoing process beginning with one property at the time. It takes persistence and patience.


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