From the community

Searsport, Stockton Springs partnering to apply for $500,000 CDBG

Posted April 04, 2013, at 1:51 p.m.

SEARSPORT, Maine — The Board of Selectmen has agreed to sponsor an application for $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to assist residents in need of home repair or replacement housing.

The town is partnering with Stockton Springs in the grant application. Housing Assistance Grant program funds are distributed through a competitive process and are only available to units of local government.

Should the towns be successful, they will establish a Housing Repair & Replacement Program to distribute the funds. Grants would be available only to income-eligible single-family homeowners, whose total household income must not exceed 80 percent of the Area Median Income, depending on the size of the household.

For example, a single person in Searsport or Stockton Springs could not have income of more than $30,750; a family of four could not have income of more than $43,900. The applicants must own their property, the only exception being that owners of mobile homes on rental lots are eligible if they have a bill of sale and a lease agreement.

The focus of the proposed program will be to assist town residents in renovating their homes. The work can include most types of general repairs such as roofing, window and door replacement, siding, electrical and plumbing repairs, heating system upgrades, and handicapped accessibility. Should the towns be successful in obtaining the grant, they will partner with Waldo Community Action Partners to leverage additional funds into the home repair effort.

Severely deteriorated houses and mobile homes built before 1976 may be replaced with new site-built homes as financing allows. Both towns have a number of mobile homes built prior to 1976, the year the federal government improved construction standards for manufactured housing.

According to Carlton Pinney, the consultant that is assisting the town with its grant application, “Pre-1976 mobile homes were not designed for northern climates, nor were they constructed with long-term durability in mind. Many are firetraps. They are well past their useful life expectancy and have depreciated to the point that many have essentially no market value. Due to the nature of the structure, repairs are often difficult or impossible to effect. Most of these mobile homes have deteriorated to the point where they are unfit and unsafe to live in. With no ability to repair these homes, and no means to purchase another home, homeowners are trapped in severely substandard and unsafe housing.”

Should the towns be successful in obtaining the grant funds, they will be used to leverage additional funding from USDA Rural Development to assist in replacing as many of these old mobile homes as possible.

To learn more about the program, contact the Searsport town office. A  Public Hearing will be held on April 16 at the Town Office so that interested homeowners can learn more about the proposed program and pick up pre-applications for the proposed home repair program.

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