Federal taxpayer grant money is available for low-income, single-family homeowners who need home repairs and improvements.
The repairs and improvements are part of anti-blight and neighborhood stabilization efforts by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Funding for the repair portion of the Community and Housing Impact and Preservation program is paid with Community Development Block Grant money. The home improvement money comes from HUD’s HOME program.
Details of the program were outlined Oct. 5 at the county administration building in Elyria by officials from the Lorain County Community Development department. The department is administering the program for HUD.
Oberlin officials partnered with their county and Sheffield Lake counterparts to apply for the approximately $1 million grant, said Linda Blanchette, an economic development specialist with the community development department. This is the second straight year the partnership was awarded the grant.
The money will primarily be spent in Oberlin and Sheffield Lake. However, county homeowners in communities other than Elyria, Lorain, and Vermilion — which have separate agreements with HUD — can apply. That includes Amherst and Wellington.
The housing rehabilitation portion of the program is targeting four homes in Oberlin and eight homes are targeted for repairs. The minimum amount of rehab money is $1,000. The maximum is $39,500.
The average amount spent for rehabs is about $36,500. The average amount for home repairs is $9,291.
Annual household income eligibility guidelines range from a single individual earning a maximum of $37,350 to a household of eight with total income of $70,400. Besides wages, income can include child support or Social Security payments.
“If you’re close, apply anyway,” said Phyllis Dunlap, a project manager with CT Consultants, an architectural, engineering and planning firm assisting the county in administering the program. “We’ll let you know if you’re over.”
Dunlap said the home repair program is relatively simple and designed for a few, short-term improvements such as fixing a furnace or patching a leaky roof. Money is provided to address repairs primarily for occupants facing an “immediate threat to their health and safety.” The program runs on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Work can include electrical, heating, mechanical or plumbing repairs and removing windows with lead-based paint. Home beautification efforts such as installing new carpeting or wallpaper are ineligible. New air conditioning, gutter cleaning or room additions are also ineligible.
The home rehabilitation program funding is more complicated and is designed for more extensive work. Priority is given to homes that need the most work. Homes are ineligible if they are valued at more than $128,000.
The rehab is paid through a mortgage with liens placed on properties. Each year, 20 percent of the cost is forgiven.
Homeowners are on the hook for a portion of the payments if they move less than five years after the work is completed. “The concept is to keep people in their homes,” Blanchette said.
For homeowners eligible for repairs or rehabs, home inspections will be performed and the work will be done by licensed contractors with references, Dunlap said. Homeowners can choose their own contractors as long as the contractors have proper certification. Dunlap said the goal is to have work begin in the spring except for emergency repairs.
Among the approximately 15 homeowners who attended the meeting was 88-year-old Oberlin resident Mattie Jackson who lives on Butternut Ridge Road. Jackson said after the meeting that she lives on a fixed income and needs to have her leaky basement repaired.
Blanchette told Jackson that county officials would be willing to come to her home to help her fill out applications for rehabilitation or repairs. “We’ll help you get whatever you need,” Blanchette said.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
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