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Walsh bill would help counties convert empty buildings into homeless housing

A bill proposed by Representative Jim Walsh would create a grant program for converting unused public buildings to housing for homeless persons.

In prefiled House Bill 2282, it states that the purpose of this program is to encourage counties to convert unused, publicly owned buildings into the homeless housing. 

Under the new rules, the Department of Commerce would oversee the application process and award grants annually. 

Only counties with a population of one hundred thousand or less would be eligible to apply to the department for these grants.

Funding from the program would be used for costs  to rehabilitate, retrofit, or convert the unused building inventory into residential or transitional housing.

Any county looking to use the funds would be required to prohibit the possession of illegal controlled substances on the grounds of these buildings, unless the property was used to provide housing during severe weather events.

These funds could not be used for staffing needs.

Counties applying for public building conversion grants would need to submit an inventory of their unused public buildings to the department prior to April 1, 2020 in order to be eligible, updating this list on a quarterly basis. 

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