MACOG To Conduct Income Survey In Milford

Michiana Area Council of Governments Community Development Planner Brett M. Roberts stands in front of the Milford Town Hall Monday morning. MACOG will be doing an income survey in the town of Milford beginning Aug. 16 as part of a grant application. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

Grant applications usually require a lot of work and information.

Representatives of the Michiana Area Council of Governments (MACOG) will be doing an income survey in the town of Milford in the next couple of weeks as part of a grant application.

MACOG is working with the town of Milford to apply for an Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) Community Development Block Grant. OCRA provides grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to small towns to fix or improve different parts of cities and towns.

“So, for example, in this case, we’re doing a planning study to look at the town of Milford’s utilities and where they will need to grow, where they will need to improve in the future. It’s really a plan to see what comes next for the town of Milford,” said Brett M. Roberts, Community Development planner with MACOG.

The process includes MACOG doing some preliminary qualification work, including the Milford Town Council approving some resolutions, and the income survey.

Roberts said for the income survey, “People will see MACOG employees walking around Milford, asking questions, as well as the actual application so we’ll be taking stories from town residents regarding their experience with their utilities here in Milford. And then we’ll put all that into an application and submit it on Oct. 15 and hopefully the state will award funding to the town for the planning study.”

The grant awards will be announced Nov. 10.

The grant the town is seeking is about $90,000, Roberts said, with 10% coming from the town as a match. He said that’s just the state’s way of trying to get buy-in from the community.

“Those funds will essentially allow the town to hire a consultant for the consultant to do the work to investigate the infrastructure here in Milford and then to give recommendations on what comes next for the town,” he said.

Roberts said they know the town is growing and people want to move to Milford, but that comes with challenges.

“We know that there’s some issues with the water system and we need to improve those things now for the existing population, while also looking to expand for future populations,” he said. “It’s just a way to best plan for the future as the town continues to grow.”

A key component of the grant application is that the town has to qualify under the HUD’s low to moderate income (LMI) standards. Roberts said that according to the federal government, the town of Milford has about a 54% LMI population, which would allow it to qualify. However, the town’s utilities go outside of the town boundaries, which means the income survey has to be done for all of those serviced by the utility.

“So, essentially, our message is that in order for this town to apply for this grant, we will have to do an income survey. So if people see us out on the street, don’t be alarmed, we are here and we are working to improve the infrastructure for the town of Milford,” Roberts said.

He said he likely will be one of the MACOG employees doing the income survey. He, and any other MACOG employees doing the study, will have their name tags on, as well as have blue clip boards.

“We hope to have official paperwork with us. But if anybody wants to know more about the process, they’re free to reach out to us or our office. We’ll also have our information on hand that night, so if someone says, ‘Can I see more information about this?,’ I can pull it out and show them. Questions are welcome,” Roberts said.

The income survey starts Aug. 16 and last for about two weeks. Roberts said it probably will be completed by Sept. 3, depending on how many people respond within that time.

“We need about 37 households, which seems really small, but that’s much harder than it sounds,” he said. “We need about 37 households to actually respond to the survey, and we will keep knocking on doors until we get those 37. It has to be a very specific 37. We have to do a randomized survey, so we have a pre-set list, but we knock on doors until we get that 37 we need.”

Anyone who is serviced by the town of Milford’s utilities has a chance to be surveyed.

There are two main questions on the income survey that are required, and then others that are voluntary. The two main questions are: How many people are in this household? And then that determines the second question, which is: Is the income of this household above or below a certain threshold?

“Each number of people in the household has a specific threshold that they have to be above or below. And we want people to answer honestly. We don’t want them to say it’s below because they want the town to get the grant. That’s not ethical. We want them to answer honestly because we know the town will qualify if people answer honestly,” Roberts said.

The additional questions are in regards to race, ethnicity and age, but aren’t required and are optional.

All the information people provide is confidential, he said. “None of it is tied to an address and none of it is tied to their names. We have a very specific formula where we actually disassociate the address from the information so they’re never in the same spreadsheets, they’re never in the same database. None of our forms list names or address, just a simple code that we produced that keeps it very anonymous,” Roberts stated.

To contact Roberts for more information, email or call him during regular business hours at 574-287-1829. They also can contact the Milford clerk-treasurer Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 574-658-4519.