Huntingburg plans to pursue ‘free money’


HUNTINGBURG — The city will apply for funding from a state program that would fund repairs to homes in Huntingburg.

The Huntingburg Common Council decided Tuesday to apply for a $350,000 grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program.

The goal of the Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program is to give homeowners financial assistance to make needed repairs to their homes. A local government determines which homes will be funded, and then applies for the funding from the state. The Southern Indiana Development Commission would be the administrator of the program.

Anyone can apply for the program, but low-income households tend to be targeted, said Jenny Dearwester of the Southern Indiana Development Commission.

Repairs that qualify are those that are done for health and safety reasons, such as electrical, roofing, siding and heating/ventilation/air conditioning work; outdoor ramps and accessible bathrooms have also been installed through the program.

The $350,000 would cover about 14 houses, depending on the amount of repairs needed to each home.

Dearwester plans to be in the city to take applications from homeowners from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 15 and 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 20. The city is securing a location for taking applications, Mayor Denny Spinner said; that will be announced in the next few days. Applications will be done on a first-come, first-served basis, Dearwester said.

Dearwester asked for the city’s help in getting the word out to the homeowners, to encourage them to apply for the funding.

“It’s free money, and people are leery of that,” she said. “It’s not often that you can get $25,000 for nothing.”

That is the maximum amount that can be spent on repairing a home under the program. Dearwester said the average amount spent on the home has been between $18,000 and $23,000, depending on the extent of the repairs.

Those who apply for repairs must own the home, be living in it and have property insurance, though the program might be able to work with them if they don’t have insurance because of things that need to be repaired on the home. An inspection of the home will be done, and the wishes of the homeowner would be considered in determining what needs to be repaired.

The homes must be identified before the overall application for the grant is sent to the state, Dearwester said. If the state approves the city’s application, the common council would hire contractors to make the repairs. The Southern Indiana Development Commission would be the liaison between the contractor and homeowners.

The council approved hiring Southern Indiana Development Commission to take care of the grant application details for $5,000. If the grant is approved, any future administration costs will come from the grant, which Dearwester estimated would be a maximum of $5,000.

Council members will determine next month if the city will provide a financial match for the grant. While it is not required to apply for funding, contributing a match increases the point score of an application, Dearwester said. The match money would be used strictly for repairs, not administration costs, she said.

The application also receives more points if specific groups are targeted for the funding, Dearwester explained, including the disabled, seniors 62 and older, veterans, homes that have children age 6 and younger and single-parent households. The more points the application receives, the better the chances are that it is approved for the state funding.

Applications from government agencies are due to the Indiana Housing and Development Authority by Dec. 17. The authority will announce the awards in March.

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