October 20, 2014

Housing grant available to repair low-income homes

By Kevin Bunch
Staff Writer | news@arenacindependent.com
Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — Low-income households are eligible to receive housing rehabilitation and repair funds through a grant approved by the Arenac County Board of Commissioners at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 21 .

The approximately $150,000 grant was provided through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, according to Lee Ann Fischer, program manager with Northeast Michigan Affordable Housing (NEMAH).

Fischer said anyone who can send along income information, the number of occupants in the home, and proof of ownership and home insurance is eligible to apply to participate in the program.

The program should begin in the next 30-60 days, Fischer said, but encouraged people to call for an application ahead of time so she has time to prepare.

The funds received through the loans goes back into the program to keep it running into the future, Fischer said.

“We’ll stretch it as far as we can,” she said. “Usually we can do 20 projects.”

The grants funds are distributed as low-interest loans for the rehabilitation projects, generally with no more than three percent interest. If clients are unable to repay the loan, then Fischer said NEMAH would work with them to either defer the loan payments or find a workable payment plan.

Fischer said the program would run over two years, and is split into two different parts. Approximately $104,000 was budgeted out for 10 housing rehabilitation projects, for new windows, doors, siding, insulation, roof repairs, and electrical repairs. An additional $18,000 is set aside for five emergency repair projects, which include repairs and replacements to well systems, septic systems, and furnaces.

A maximum of $27,000 of the remaining funds will go towards program administration over the lifetime of the grant. While it is only budgeted for 15 projects, Fischer hopes to squeeze in more people than that.

In addition, Fischer said she would be applying for a housing preservation grant through the United States Department of Agriculture for matching funds. She also planned on getting additional matching funds through the federal home loan bank.

Fischer said the program usually has between 20-25 applicants in Arenac County, and the NEMAH office tries to accommodate as many as possible.

“If we see we don’t have enough, we will find other funding for the project,” Fischer said.

Different counties receive different amounts through the CDBG program, based on population. If Arenac County’s population increases when Fischer reapplies for the grant in two years, she said the county would receive more than $150,000.

Fischer can be reached at the NEMAH office in West Branch Monday through Thursday at 989-345-5390, and on Friday at the Arenac County Housing Commission at 989-846-6651.

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