Program would help rehab homes in city

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — A state program could fund repairs to homes in the city.

The Huntingburg Common Council is considering applying for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program.

“The program provides assistance to homeowners,” Jenny Dearwester of the Southern Indiana Development Commission explained to the council Tuesday. “This is totally free to the homeowners. It is free and clear money for the homeowners.”

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.

Though anyone could be included in the program, “we try to target low-income people for this program,” Dearwester said. “It’s to make the home more safe and livable.”

Examples of repairs that have been made through the program are electrical, roofing, siding and heating/ventilation/air conditioning work; outdoor ramps and accessible bathrooms have also been installed through the program.

The maximum amount Huntingburg can apply for is $350,000, which Dearwester said would cover about 14 houses, depending on the amount of repairs needed to each home.

While no financial match is required to apply for funding, contributing a match increases the point score of an application, she said. The match money would also be used for repairs, Dearwester said. The application also gets more points is specific groups are targeted for the funding, including the disabled, seniors 62 and older, veterans, homes that have children age 6 and younger and single-parent households.

If the city decides to apply for the funding, the Southern Indiana Development Commission would seek homeowners to apply for repairs to their homes as well as submit the city’s overall application to the state. An inspection would 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 application is sent to the state, Dearwester said. Those who apply for repairs must own the home and be living in it, Dearwester said.

Also, the owner must have property insurance. But 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, 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.

“If we get more applications that we can (fulfill), you can start with the lower income households first, and keep going until the money runs out,” Dearwester said.

Along with the match funding, another cost for the city would be Southern Indiana Development Commission’s contract to collect applications from homeowners and to submit the city’s application to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. That cost would be $50 per hour, not to exceed $5,000, Dearwester said.

If the authority approves Huntingburg’s application, the rest of the Southern Indiana Development Commission’s fee would be covered by the grant. The city’s match funding would strictly go to making repairs to houses, Dearwester assured the council.

The commission would need the council’s help in getting the word out about the funding to assure residents that this is legitimate. “It is key for people to hear about this from you,” Dearwester said.

Council members said they would consider applying for the program.

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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