According to a 2016 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (CIRC), one-third of municipal buildings in Canada are in need of repair, a number which could likely apply to the U.S., as well. However, many towns and municipalities lack the resources to make upgrades to existing structures.
Structure a Major Concern for Aging Municipal Buildings
Older buildings are often not equipped to continue working as they had when they were brand new, as equipment ages, and strain is placed on the facilities. Unsafe materials could also be a hazard for those working or visiting the building.
Employees of the downtown Municipal Court in Austin, Texas, were evacuated from the building on Nov. 29, 2017, after debris possibly containing asbestos material was exposed. Building service workers investigating a leak lifted a few ceiling tiles, causing a “great deal of dust, dead roaches and other materials to fall including on desks, carpet and employees.”
Communities Turn to State Funds for Help with Infrastructure
While many city leaders acknowledge the problems facing existing structures, it’s often difficult to make room in the budget to address them.
City officials in Freemansburg, Pennsylvania, received $500,000 from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to upgrade its existing municipal complex, which is more than 40 years old. Funds will be used to provide storage for equipment, as well as safety and technology upgrades. The grants will also be used to make the building more energy efficient and handicap-accessible.
Federal Grants Available to Renovate Aging Municipal Buildings
City leaders can also turn to three different federal funding sources for help with municipal buildings renovations.
#1 The State-Administered Community Development Block (CDBG) Grant
Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), CDBG provides funding to elevate living and working conditions and expand development. Grant funds may be used to:
- Purchase land
- Renovate existing structures
- Create jobs
Cities and counties with less than 50,000 and 200,000 residents are eligible to receive grant funds. Learn more on the HUD website.
#2 The Community Facilities Grant Program
Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the community facilities grant program helps develop facilities that are crucial to the community. Low-income areas with less than 20,000 residents can use grants funds to:
- Construct facilities to be used for public health, public safety and public services
- Buy equipment
#3 The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
Funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), eligible communities needing to demolish, elevate properties to avoid flood concerns and enforce building codes can access hazard mitigation funds. Learn more on the FEMA website.
Get more ideas to fund building improvements: