Council OKs home repair program

A state-funded pilot program to help low to moderate income homeowners in Seymour who need financial help with home repairs recently received the backing of the city council.

Tara Hagan, a grant and project manager with Administrative Resources association, told the council during its meeting Monday night she was in the process of completing an application for the Owner-Occupied Rehab Pilot Grant Program. That application had to be submitted to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs by midnight Friday.

“It’s pretty much what it (the title) says,” Hagan said of the program, which would require $27,778 in local funding.

Hoosier cities, counties and towns can apply for up to $250,000 from the program.

“You have to own your own home, and it’s for repairs such as roof, ADA accessibility up toward the home, heating and cooling, lighting and electrical upgrades and water heater replacement,” Hagan said.

She said ARa, which is owned by 11 southern Indiana cities and provides assistance in the planning and financing of community and economic development projects, is anticipating being able to help at least 15 city homeowners with repairs.

Hagan said a public hearing about the grant proposal was held Oct. 11, and it was very well attended.

“You had over 30 applications come in,” she said.

The deadline to apply for up to $15,000 in assistance was Monday, but Hagan said the city will still be accepting applications. They are available at city hall. at 301-309 N. Chestnut St.

“What we have had happen in the past in communities where we have helped with these programs is as we get through 15 to 18 or 20 homes, we will go back in and apply for funds again,” she said.

Seymour has participated in two or three similar programs operated different state agencies in the past, she said.

The homes of those applying must be on a solid foundation, and they cannot be mobile homes.

She said applicants actually have to own the home or being purchasing through a loan.

“It can’t be a contract sale,” Hagan said.

Councilman Bret Cunningham later asked her why those buying on contract are not eligible.

“The reason I ask is because low-income families also are often dealing with credit ratings and things like that that make them ineligible to purchase a home,” he said.

She said it was her understanding that is one of rules that come through the Community Development Block Grant program.

There also are eligibility requirements to make sure property owners meet income guidelines established that vary depending upon the number of people in the household.

Hagan said for instance, if there is one person in a household, they could make up to $41,750 for becoming ineligible.

The applications are scored and special points are given to the elderly, disabled, female head of household, among other things.

“We should know sometime in November if we are funded,” Hagan said. “We have been told by the state that they are funding at least four of these owner-occupied grant applications.”

In an answer to a question from Councilman Chad Hubbard, Hagan said the number of people who would actually be served depends upon the size of their project, but there would be at least 15.

She said someone might only need a water heater, while another might be in need of a roof and a water heater. The amount would be capped at $15,000 per property owner.

The homeowner would not receive any money for the work, and ARa finds the contractor and supplies an inspector.

“The money doesn’t go directly to the homeowners. It comes through us,” Hagan said.

She said one of the requirements of the pilot program, which was launched in July 2021, is that the city must have participated in a similar program for three years.

“And the grant administrator, which would be us, has to have experience, and we have 25 years of experience,” she said.

The council then approved the request 6-0.

Crothersville also is applying for funding through the program.