HCCOG looking at alternative housing repair grants

Wil Petty

January 26, 2014

The Ashe County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to send a letter of support for the High Country Council of Governments to apply for a grant provided by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency.

In the Tuesday, Jan. 21 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Michelle Ball, Planning Director of the HCCOG discussed the Finance Agency’s Urgent Repair Program.

The application for the program will cover Ashe, Alleghany, Avery and Watauga counties. HCCOG will be requesting $200,000 in funding.

Ball said the program would help fix between eight and 10 low-income households in Ashe County.

“We’re looking for anything to keep the homeowner in the home,” Ball said.

The new plan to find funding for the renovations comes after the county lost a $400,000 grant for the state’s Scattered Site Rehabilitation program. The program ran in a three-year cycle and helped the county repair homes for low-income families.

“Unfortunately, after the General Assembly met and passed budget last summer, this will be the last (scattered site grant) Ashe County gets,” Ball said.

Commissioner Judy Porter Poe said eliminating the scattered site program was the state’s decision and not the county’s.

“This program has been great over the years,” Poe said.

The Urgent Repair Program the HCCOG is applying for provides repairs to homes which pose an “imminent threat to the life or safety of the homeowner or their ability to remain in their homes,” according to a document submitted by the HCCOG to the county commissioners. The repairs for homes will range from $6,000 to $8,000.

Several repairs will be eligible through the program. They include: a new roof, electrical, floor and plumbing repair, replacement of broken windows or doors and handicap accessibility. Also, on-site septic and well repairs and installations are available through the funding.

So far, the program has been implemented in two High Country counties.

“We’re running (the program) in Wilkes and Yancey (counties) and it is very successful,” Ball said.

Eligible applicants include people over age 62, disabled, single-parent households, a household with five or more occupants or a household that has a small child with a high blood lead level.

Ball said the HCCOG would like to continue using the Housing Advisory Committee the county set up from the scattered site program to help support the Urgent Repair Program.

The HCCOG is also looking into the Single Family Rehabilitation Project, which would help low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners whose incomes are below 80 percent of the county’s income median. The HCCOG will be the applicants and Ashe County will have no financial responsibility from the program.

For more information about the new programs, contact Ball at (828) 265-5434 ext. 115.

Wil Petty may be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @wilpetty