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Housing & Neighborhood Development

Q:  What does Housing & Neighborhood Development do?

A:  The Mission of Polk County Housing and Neighborhood Development Division (HND) shall be to improve the quality of life for the very low, low and moderate income citizens of Polk County and, at the same time, rekindle community pride through economic and political empowerment and development of lasting partnerships between government and the community. More specifically, HND will:

  • Increase economic opportunities and improve living standards through mobilization of all available resources within and outside the community.
  • Conduct assessment of existing conditions to discover opportunities as well as problems;
  • Maintain an unbiased approach to housing and community development, maximizing existing opportunities, and tailoring problem solutions to specific needs and cultural preferences;
  • Increase public awareness of and facilitate ongoing participation in the community development process; and
  • Provide leadership and leadership training through development and nurturing of neighborhood organizations.

Housing & Neighborhood Development administers federal and state grant programs. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) programs serve low-income families in unincorporated Polk County as well as in other cities and towns throughout the county. The division's primary objective is assisting in the development of sustainable communities. Sustainable communities are achieved by implementing neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and the provision of improved community facilities and services.

The Housing & Neighborhood Development Division also administers the affordable housing and the homeowner rehabilitation programs funded by the HOME Investment Partnership Program and the State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program. These programs are intended to increase housing opportunities for very low, low and moderate income households and to rehabilitate substandard homes in keeping with the policy set by the Board of County Commissioners that stable neighborhoods are the cornerstone of community development.
The Housing & Neighborhood Development Division also administers Section 8 Rental Housing Assistance funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 Housing Program.

Q:  What is CDBG?

A: The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 established the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program to provide decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanded economic opportunities for persons of low and moderate income. Each CDBG-funded activity must meet one of three national objectives including (1) Principally benefiting low and moderate income persons; (2) Preventing or eliminating slum and blight; or (3) Meeting other community development needs having a particular urgency.

Q:  What is the HOME Program?

A:  The Home Investment Partnership (HOME) Program works to preserve and enhance Polk County's affordable housing stock through rehabilitation of owner-occupied dwellings is the goal of the HOME Program. Very low and low homeowners whose homes were determined unfeasible for rehabilitation may be replaced with a new single-family unit. Community housing development organizations may also implement housing activities. 

Q:  What is the ESG?

A:  The Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG)  are awarded to nonprofit organizations that are then used to provide emergency shelter and associated support services to homeless individuals and families.  Also funded by HUD, grants to nonprofit organizations are used to provide emergency shelter and associated support services to homeless individuals and families.

Q:  What is the SHIP Program?

A:  The State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP) provides down payment and closing costs assistance, minor repair, rehabilitation or replacement of owner-occupied dwellings, home counseling, and rehabilitation or new construction of multifamily affordable rental housing units. These programs are available to very low, low, and moderate income persons.

Q:  Disaster Recovery Assistance

A:  Implemented only in the event of a natural disaster declaration by the Governor, this program provides assistance for minor repairs, substantial rehabilitation, or reconstruction of eligible housing for very low, low, and moderate income households whose properties have been damaged by a natural disaster. To be eligible, the house must be owner-occupied at the time of the disaster with needed repairs not covered by insurance.

Q:  What is Section 8 Housing?


A: Section 8 Rental Assistance provides low income families with safe, decent, and affordable housing opportunities as they strive to achieve self-sufficiency and improve the quality of their lives.

Q:  Who administers the Section 8 Program?

A:  The majority of Section 8 rental vouchers are administered locally by housing agencies (HAs). The (HAs) receive federal funding from HUD to administer the Section 8 Program. Usually, but not always, Section 8 HAs are public housing agencies (PHAs). A PHA is a unique governmental body that administers both public housing and Section 8 voucher program for the federal government at the local level. Polk County Government has been designated a high performance housing agency administering up to 110 rental vouchers.

Q:  How does the Section 8 Program Work?

A:  A household that is participating in the Section 8 program is issued a voucher and is responsible for finding and selecting a suitable rental unit of its choice, which may include the unit in which the participant currently is living. Once suitable housing has been located and a Section 8 Lease has been signed, a rental subsidy is paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the participant. The participant is then responsible for paying the difference between the actual rent charged by the landlord and the amount subsidized by the program.

Q:  Am I eligible for the Section 8 Program?

A:  To qualify for the Section 8 Program, a person must:

  • Be very low income.  This means your income must be at or below 50% of area-wide median income as determined by HUD.
  • Be a citizen
  • Be a non-citizen with "eligible immigration status"; and
  • Meet HUD's definition of "household", which includes most individuals with a disability and households with an adult member who has a disability.

Q:  What is the Demolition and Clearance Program?

A:  Funded by the Community Development Block Grant, the program's goals are to eliminate slum and blight in unincorporated areas of Polk County. HND staff identifies potential problem structures located in low and moderate income areas contributing to the physical, social, and/or economic decline.

The Polk County Demolition Program is funded by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). The Demolition Program operates under the Polk County Ordinance 11-007 and the Housing Urban Development (HUD) Guidelines. The average demolition case takes approximately 3 to 4 months to process. Since 1999 the Polk County Demolition Program has been responsible for the demolition of over 1400 dilapidated structures in Polk County of which 625 were funded using CDBG funds

Q:  What is the HHAP Program?

A:  The Hurrican Housing Assistance Plan (HHAP) is for the purpose of meeting the housing needs of the very low, low and moderate, income households, to expand production and preserve affordable housing, to further the housing element of the local government comprehensive plan specific to affordable housing.

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Polk County Board of County Commissioners | 330 West Church Street | P.O. Box 9005 | Bartow, FL 33830 | 863.534.6000