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Roanoke offers facade improvement grants
Owners and tenants of property along a strip of Southeast Roanoke’s Belmont-Fallon neighborhood can receive government grants to help fix up their buildings’ facades.
The city announced Tuesday that grants of between $2,000 and $8,000 are available to renovate the exterior of homes on Jamison Avenue between 6th Street and 13th Street.
That stretch lies within what Roanoke calls the “Belmont-Fallon Target Area,” where the city has dedicated federal housing funds from 2019 through 2024 to build new homes and fix old ones. Roanoke aims to start building or renovating 40 homes in the neighborhood over that timeframe.
Along with the nonprofit Renovation Alliance, the city will fund up to half of eligible renovation costs, according to a press release.
“The grants will encourage investment in and improvement of real property, decrease vacancy, improve the vibrancy of the area, and serve as a valuable tool for revitalizing this section of the City,” the city said in the release.
Funds come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through its Community Development Block Grant program. The facade grants cannot be used for commercial buildings.
Interested owners or tenants can apply for funds through Renovation Alliance at (540) 400-0959 or email@example.com.
There is a total of $80,000 available through June 30, 2024, according to a city spokeswoman.
Democrat takes on McNamara
Democrats have nominated a first-time candidate to go against Del. Joe McNamara, R-Roanoke County, in a newly redrawn district that includes parts of Roanoke City.
Misty Dawn, 38, said she was inspired to run after finding out last month that no other candidate sought the Democratic endorsement for the House of Delegates District 40 seat.
The Roanoke County resident grew up in Roanoke and said she has 20 years of experience in the social work field. Her campaign priorities include access to mental and physical healthcare; supporting women and children; and gun safety.
Dawn said she grew up in a poor family and expressed a passion for helping those in need.
“We don't really talk about the fact that there's only so many times you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps before your bootstraps break,” she said. “People are still struggling to get on their feet, post-Covid.”
McNamara is the only certified public accountant in the House of Delegates and owns an ice cream parlor in Salem. He won his 2021 race against Democrat Dustin Wimbish with 70.7 percent of the vote.
Dawn acknowledges she has an uphill climb in the district, which is now more Democratic but still leans roughly 56 percent Republican, according to an average of past elections estimated by the Virginia Public Access Project.
“If you want to look at it statistically, I am a long shot,” she said. “But I did not care. I felt that being represented is even more important than winning.”
The district encompasses Salem, parts of Roanoke County and parts of the Grandin Court, Raleigh Court and Deyerle neighborhoods in Roanoke. The general election is Nov. 7.
No Republican files for Rasoul seat
No Republicans have expressed an interest in running against Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, according to the chairman of the Roanoke City Republican Committee.
Republicans were expected to hold a mass meeting Tuesday to decide their nominee. It was canceled because no candidates filed, said chairman Charlie Nave.
Rasoul is running in a newly redrawn House of Delegates District 38, which leans roughly 61.6 percent Democratic, according to an average of past elections estimated by the Virginia Public Access Project.
“We lost neighborhoods in Roanoke that made up a Democratic base of the district and added neighborhoods like Belmont and Garden City where Republicans won over 60% of the vote,” Rasoul wrote in a fundraising email this month. “This shake-up shifted my district’s partisanship six points to the right, making this the toughest re-election of my career!”
Rasoul’s last Republican opponent was Nave, who lost in 2021 with 35.3 percent of the vote.
Nave said he thinks Republicans still have until June 20 to find and certify a candidate “through extraordinary measures available to us via the party plan.”
“But I’ve been looking for someone for more than a year so I don’t expect one to crop up,” he aded in an email.
Correction (5/31/23) — An earlier version of the Rambling about a lack of Republican challenger to Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, incorrectly gave a filing deadline for independent candidates. All candidates must file by June 20.
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