October 21, 2014

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$400,000 in grant money available for home improvements in North Ridgeville

NORTH RIDGEVILLE – Residents needing home improvements ranging from a new hot water heater or furnace to a leaky roof will be able to apply for help under a state grant.

The funds will be made available to needy households from a $400,000 Community Housing Improvement Program, or CHIP grant, the city recently received from the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Applications will first be made available at a 6:15 p.m. Oct. 29 public meeting to be held in City Council chambers during which people will learn about available assistance and eligibility requirements including income limits.

“We try to get money to the most needy folks,” City Treasurer Tony Hatmaker, whose office administers the CHIP grant program locally.

Applicants are weighed on a system that awards points for meeting not only income limits, but number of people residing in a home, extent of needed improvements, and total household assets such as savings accounts.

“We want to find out people’s ability to fund repairs on their own,” Hatmaker said.

Points are also given for households that include a senior citizen and or someone who is disabled.

The city has received the federally funded two-year state grant since 2002.

Due to cutbacks at the federal level, the latest grant has been reduced by $100,000 from the $500,000 the city has received in past years, according to Hatmaker.

Grant money is usually made available to residents in October or November so needed upgrades may be made to head off costlier utility bills and other rising prices that typically come with colder weather.

“The state wanted to try and fund the same number of applicants so it sliced everybody down a bit so they could reach the same number of communities,” Hatmaker said.

As a result, the normal number of applicants who will likely be helped looks to shrink a bit.

“We normally target around 12 to 15 for home repairs, and around eight for rehab projects,” Hatmaker said. “Those figures look to be one or two less this time around.”

The CHIP grant program has averaged 50 to 60 applicants over a two-year period, with most residents seeking financial assistance for specific repairs that have an $8,000 cap. Costs of roof repairs have risen as prices of materials such as oil-based shingles have gone up, Hatmaker said.

More extensive home rehab jobs have a $35,000 ceiling, with individual work averaging $25,000 to $30,000, Hatmaker said.

These larger projects can range from installing a new furnace to putting a new roof on a house.

A rehab can also consist of multiple improvements such as replacing plumbing or electrical wiring to bring a dwelling up to current building and safety codes.

While home repairs are made at no cost to residents, home rehab jobs come with a maximum $4,500 lien (or 15 percent of a job’s total costs) that remains on a property until it is sold or transferred.

To learn more or get an application after the Oct. 29 meeting, call the treasurer’s office at 440-353-0854 or 440-353-0878.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.