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Block grant program helps homeowners with repairs

Date: 11/23/2011

Nov. 23, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

SOUTHWICK — Income eligible residents in need of money for specific types of home repairs may be able to get that assistance through a recent Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded to Southwick by the Department of Housing and Human Development (HUD).

Erica Johnson, community development planner with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) told Reminder Publications the town just received a total of $900,000, which had been awarded during the fiscal year 2011 CDBG cycle. She said the funding would be divided between housing rehabilitation projects and renovations to the town’s Senior Center.

Southwick’s Chief Administrative Officer Karl Stinehart said the proposed 1,900 square-foot addition to the existing Senior Center is expected to cost $538,000 “including construction bidding and contract administration.”

Johnson said the rest of the grant money would be used to provide deferred payment home renovation loans for six or more projects ranging in cost from $5,000 to $34,000.

“It all depends,” Johnson added. “They could be huge projects and eat up the money, or they could be small, and we could do more.”

The loans, which she said decrease to a zero balance during the course of 15 years, are not due for repayment unless the property is sold before that time.

“It’s a good program if you’re staying in your home long-term,” Johnson said.

The money, she noted, can be used for a variety of repair projects, including the installation of a new roof or septic system, new windows for energy efficiency, new heating systems, porch and railing replacements and things such as ramps that allow individuals improved access to their home.

Johnson noted that the PVPC is already working with some homeowners who were on a previous waiting list for this assistance, but that those with a need should still apply now.

Income eligibility requirements to apply for these loans are $43,800 for a single-person household and $50,050 for a two-person household. The limit jumps to $62,550 for a four-person household. Johnson added that these income limits are adjusted annually.

“It’s not a program for low-income people. It’s a program for low and moderate-income individuals,” she said. “If someone is concerned they don’t qualify now, it doesn’t hurt to get on the waiting list because they might qualify the next time the limit changes.”

Johnson said she encourages individuals to contact her colleague, Senior Housing Coordinator Laurel Foley-Beauchesene, at the PVPC office at 781-6045, with questions about specific housing rehabilitation projects.

They can also call Foley-Beauchesene, or stop by the PVPC office at 60 Congress St., Springfield, to request an application for the program.

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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