Two housing trust fund programs available in Washington County
By Linda Wenger
Some grant funds are available to Washington County developers, contractors, housing organizations and low-income homeowners to assist with construction costs, renovation costs and minor repairs to homes.
Tracey Auchenbach of the East Central Iowa Housing Trust Fund visited the Washington County Supervisors Tuesday to describe the two housing programs. She said that the county contributed $16,500 in 2011 that led to funding housing projects in the county.
Auchenbach named the Washington County projects that have received grant funding.
“To give you an idea, in the first year, we awarded the Riverside Elderly Development Corporation to help them do some renovations on their senior housing,” she said. “We awarded them $191,300 to do activities there. We’ve also awarded HACAP money to help with the renovation of your former building, Old Main, and they’re going to put some residential units in that building. We helped fund that with $80,000 of our dollars.”
Auchenbach also mentioned a $40,000 grant that went to Kalona Valley Apartments and some funding that helped two people in Washington County do minor repairs.
“We have funding that’s available right now,” she said. “We have an application in to us from Ainsworth for senior housing there. But we still have some money, not a lot, but about $150,000. The biggest rule that we have [is] that anyone who benefits from the housing we assist has to have an income below 80 percent of the median income. Actually, part of our funding has to go to people with extremely low income, which means 30 percent [of the median].”
In Washington, County Auchenbach said a single person would have to have an income lower than $36,050, while a three-person household would have to have an income below $46,350.
“We have an open win-
dow process,” she continued. “People can just go to our Web site (www.ecicog.org/ecihtf/) and look for the application, look for the information and then apply to us that way.”
The second program available to county residents helps low-income homeowners up to $7,500 for making minor repairs. The homeowner needs to be willing to have a five-year lien on the property for the amount of the repair. One-fifth of the amount would be forgiven every year for five years.
“The income guidelines are a little bit different,” she said. “For that program, a one- or two-person household can have an income up to $35,770.”
In 2010, the program helped three people in Wellman, one in Kalona, three in Washington, two in Crawfordsville and one in Riverside. Homeowners who live in the rural part of the county are also eligible for the assistance.
Senior citizens who have a small savings account and who may be reluctant to spend any money are “perfect candidates” for this type of grant. This program is offering grants of up to $7,500. The grant can fund a new roof, a new furnace, an electrical upgrade, a plumbing problem, emergency repairs and residential accessibility.
“It’s a fairly easy program for them to participate in, “Auchenbach said. “They get to choose who the bidders are for the project and then the lowest bidder is the one who gets the project.”
Supervisor Steve Davis asked if homeowners can make the changes themselves.
“I don’t think so because sometimes that gets to be an issue,” Achenbach said.
Supervisor Bob Yoder, who is a member of the housing trust fund board, invited Auchenbach to the supervisors’ meeting. He said he wanted people to be aware of the programs that may assist county residents.