Thursday, April 10, 2003

Home repair funding sought

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BATAVIA - Clermont County officials have applied for $500,000 in federal funds for a program that would help low- to moderate-income homeowners finance repair projects.

Commissioners approved the application to the Ohio Department of Development, which administers the funds. A response is anticipated by June.

If the funds are approved, qualifying Clermont County residents who own and live in their own homes will be able to apply to the county for either low-interest loans or grants to help finance the cost of home repairs or rehabilitation on homes more than 50 years old.

The program would be managed by the nonprofit organization People Working Cooperatively (PWC), which has 27 years of experience helping needy homeowners in the Greater Cincinnati area with such things as emergency repairs, winterization and energy conservation.

Although managed by PWC, the program will also draw input from government and private agencies such as the county's Department of Job and Family Services and Clermont Senior Services.

According to the Ohio Department of Development about 71 percent of housing units in Clermont County are owner-occupied.

It is anticipated that many of those who might be eligible will live in the portions of the county south of Ohio 32, where incomes tend to be lower and housing stock tends to be older, officials said.

The average cost of a repair, either a mechanical or structural replacement such as a roof or a furnace - is expected to be about $5,500. The maximum allowed by the program would be about $8,000.

The maximum amount of a rehabilitation project, which would cover the cost of replacing multiple items in order to make the house livable, is $30,000.

Curt Paddock, director of the county's Planning and Economic Development Department, acknowledged that $500,000 might seem like a small amount when it comes to the potential amount of applicants and the possible cost of all the needs. However, if the program proves successful it will be much easier to apply for continued funding, he said.


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