Homeowners apply for grants to upgrade houses

Posted Nov. 24, 2010, at 8:15 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — As many as 30 homeowners have applied for a portion of a $250,000 federal grant that will pay for upgrades to or replacements of their homes starting next month, a grant administrator said Wednesday.

Carlton Pinney, owner and proprietor of Northeast Housing Services of Hampden, is reviewing grant applications for Millinocket and Dexter and has begun to seek housing contractors to do the work.

“We are up and running in both towns,” Pinney said Wednesday. “I expect that within a couple of weeks we will be getting some of the work going. We will be working right through the winter, but obviously we won’t be outdoors until the weather permits.”

As part of the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which is administered through Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development, 10 municipalities each are getting $250,000 for single-family home repair this year, said Deborah Johnson, development program manager for DECD’s Office of Community Development.

They are Calais, Camden, Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Farmington, Gouldsboro, Mars Hill, Millinocket, Parkman and St. Clair, she said. The program typically disperses grants to eight to 10 communities annually.

Depending on the counties involved, a single homeowner making as much as $29,100-$32,500 and a family of four earning as much as $41,600-$47,000 could be eligible for housing assistance, Johnson said.

Who is eligible?

Single homeowners making as much as $29,100-$32,500 and families of four making as much as $41,600-$47,000 in those towns are eligible for $250,000 DECD grants.

Winners from 2010 are:

  • Calais
  • Camden
  • Dexter
  • Dover-Foxcroft
  • Farmington
  • Gouldsboro
  • Mars Hill
  • Millinocket
  • Parkman
  • St. Clair

Source: Maine Department of Economic and Community Development

Roof and window replacement, weatherization, lead paint abatement and electrical and plumbing repair or replacement are among the jobs for which the grant will pay. The grant, Pinney said, will even replace homes not worth fixing or mobile homes that predate 1976.

“These are generally older homes that have a lot of what we call deferred maintenance issues,” Pinney said.

All work will be required to meet federal housing standards, Pinney said.

The idea of the program is to help residents, particularly senior citizens, maintain their homes and keep them safe from fires or other hazards, Johnson said.

Town Manager Eugene Conlogue briefed the Town Council on the program Tuesday during a meeting. He said it was going well. Councilor Michael Madore said he liked the grant program, but disliked its being administered through a third party instead of the town.

Homeowners interested in applying for a grant and contractors interested in bidding on jobs should contact the municipalities listed, Johnson said. Any Millinocket or Dexter homeowner or housing contractor can contact Pinney at 433-0425 or cpinney1@roadrunner.com, he said.

“We encourage people to continue to apply,” Pinney said. “If we don’t get everyone, we will try to follow up with different grants.”

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