S. Nevada officials frustrated over stimulus snub | NevadaAppeal.com

S. Nevada officials frustrated over stimulus snub

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Clark County officials are wondering where the federal help is for southern Nevada’s soaring number of foreclosures.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department recently awarded nearly $2 billion in federal stimulus funds to help communities cope with foreclosures.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said his board is frustrated about getting snubbed.

Andrea Mead, a HUD spokeswoman in Washington D.C., said the application process was competitive across the country.

Of the 482 entities that applied, less than 12 percent received federal money. That included just two counties in the West: Pima County, Ariz., and Alameda County, Calif.

“To be perfectly honest, there’s a lot of need in the country,” Mead said. “The situation is very bleak and there’s a limited amount of funding in the program.”

Four southern Nevada governments – Clark County, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson – pursued the federal money as a consortium, following HUD’s suggestion. They requested $367 million, roughly enough to buy about 4,000 foreclosed homes, fix them up and provide down-payment help for new buyers.

Of that, North Las Vegas would have received $120 million, Las Vegas $103 million, Clark County $100 million and Henderson $44 million. The money would have been allocated over three years.

Before it was submitted, the consortium showed the application to local HUD officials.

“They didn’t tell us that we needed to do a rewrite,” said Mike Pawlak, Clark County’s director of the Community Resources Management Division.

One explanation may simply be that, while foreclosures are high in southern Nevada, the problems are widespread around the country and many areas haven’t had the benefit of ongoing economic growth that Clark County has experienced.

“I think people forget Detroit and Cleveland or other parts of large urban metro areas that have seen decades of poverty and disinvestment and blight,” said Pawlak, who said he hadn’t yet been briefed by HUD officials about why the consortium’s application was turned down.

County commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said the focus now should be on what can be done to improve the region’s chances at landing future grants.

“People need to chill before we start making all these accusations,” she said. “We didn’t get this money, so we get ready for the next round. We move forward.”