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Published: Friday, 10/1/2004

$7M in grants aim to fix homes in northwest Ohio

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

An infusion of $7 million in state and federal funds announced this week for northwest Ohio is mainly to help low to moderate-income homeowners fix up their properties.

The Community Housing Improvement Program grants also will be used by some area cities and counties to subsidize tenants' rent payments, help landlords renovate properties for low to moderate-income tenants, assist home buyers with down payments, and partner with Habitat for Humanity.

Fourteen northwest Ohio cities and counties each are to receive between $500,000 and almost $600,000 from the Ohio Department of Development's Office of Housing and Community Partnerships. In most cases, the money is to be used over two years.

Huron County is to get the most, $582,500, and Fulton County, the second highest, $579,000. Three counties - Ottawa, Erie, and Allen - are to receive $555,000 each. Two cities - Oregon and Sandusky - are to gain $550,000 each. Port Clinton is to get $542,900, and Defiance County $525,000. Henry, Paulding, Putnam, and Van Wert counties and the city of Van Wert are to receive $500,000 each.

The program is funded by the Community Development Block Grant Program, HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and Ohio Housing Trust Fund.

Income limits for homeowners and tenants vary from county to county.

But typically in northwest Ohio, a household of four people cannot earn more than $42,000 to $48,000 to be eligible. For one person, the limit typically is $29,000 to $32,500.

Here's how Fulton County has budgeted its funds:

●$263,500 to help 11 homeowners with major home repairs, such as electrical, plumbing, heating, or roof work. Maximum assistance for any homeowner is $30,000.

●$30,000 to help five homeowners with emergency repairs, such as a furnace that suddenly quit working or a roof that sprung a leak. Maximum assistance per household is $8,000. Fulton County typically receives fewer applications for this fund than any other.

●$58,500 to help landlords fix up four rental units. The maximum assistance per unit is $17,500. Landlords who accept more than $15,000 in CHIP funds must rent the property to a tenant with low to moderate income for at least 10 years.

Those who receive less than $15,000 must rent to tenants who fall in such income brackets for at least five years. The properties can be rented at market rates.

●$77,000 to help five households with a down payment on a home. The maximum assistance for any household is $25,000, and buyers cannot choose a home priced above $136,150.

●$50,000 to buy two home-building lots for Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity.

●$100,000 for administration by the Maumee Valley Planning Organization, a nonprofit organization formed to administer such grants.

About 37 percent of Fulton County residents, or about 15,000 people, are thought to fall in the income guidelines to be eligible for the program, Ms. Karcher said.

Figures are similar in most of the other northwest Ohio communities in line for CHIP funds, but with variations.

Oregon will subsidize rent payments for 20 tenants by a maximum of $150 a month. The city budgeted $30,000 of its $550,000 grant for that.

Sandusky will use all its $550,000 grant to help homeowners with major renovations. But it has other funds for a wider variety of home improvement programs, administrators said.

Several counties did not include Habitat for Humanity in their budgets. Erie County did not include funds for landlords fixing up rental properties.

Though CHIP grants typically are for two years, the state awards grants every year. So many area counties and cities that were not on this week's grant list received money last year and are spending it now.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.



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