LAKE PLACID — The town of North Elba was awarded $500,000 in federal funding on Thursday to create a housing repair assistance program that will grant loans to local homeowners for home repairs they normally wouldn’t be able to afford.
The program, federally-funded through the state’s Community Development Block Grant program, will be open to eligible residents in both the town and the village of Lake Placid. The town submitted its application requesting the grant in October.
Essex County already has a similar housing program in place, the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County. Community Development Director Haley Breen worked on North Elba’s application alongside HAPEC’s community development director, Angel Marvin, who worked on a similar grant application in Hamilton County. Breen said she’ll continue to work with HAPEC to administer grants once the town receives the funds and gets guidance from the state Office of Community Renewal on next steps.
Hopefully, Breen said, the town could start helping with home improvements in a couple of months.
Right now, the town has more than 20 applications from residents requesting funding for housing repairs. Breen said those applications will be considered when the town administers grants. She said people can still submit applications for this funding cycle, but with the amount of applicants the town has already received, she said not all are guaranteed housing repair assistance. It’s good to have more applications on file though, Breen said, because the town could apply for another round of CDBG funding in the future.
When it comes to criteria for who’s eligible to receive repairs, Breen said the town will consider the income, need and age of those applying. She said the goal is to be as fair and objective as possible, and to look for homes where the funding could make the biggest impact.
Single-family homeowners who make less than 80% of the area’s average income, which varies depending on the size of the household, would be eligible for the town’s program. For example, a two-person household would have to make less than $46,350 a year to qualify, and a four-person household would have to make less than $57,900 a year to qualify.
Landlords could also apply, but to be eligible at least 51% of their units would have to contain households that make less than 80% of the AAI.
The grant is awarded to homeowners in the form of a loan from the town. The town’s loan would span across five years for each household. As long as homeowners don’t move out in those five years, they won’t be responsible for interest charges or monthly payments, and they won’t owe any money at the end of that period.
If a homeowner moves before the five year loan period ends, they may be responsible for paying back a portion of the loan. As soon as the five years are up, a homeowner can move out, according to Breen.
Eligible homeowners could use the loans to repair heating, electrical and plumbing issues, water lines and well pumps, roofs and gutters, chimneys and foundations, insulation and necessary room additions in overcrowded homes.
Cosmetic fixes like wallpaper, decorative fixtures, driveways and walkways won’t be eligible for funding. Right now, mobile homeowners aren’t eligible to apply for repair assistance.
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