The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 27, 2013

Orwell Village target area for county’s CHIP application

Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — Orwell Village is the target area for $100,000 of Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) grant money in the county’s 2013 application.

Dawn Gates, grant specialist for the county’s department of planning and community services, told commissioners on Tuesday that the county will seek $400,000, the maximum award under the two-year grant program. Ashtabula, Geneva and Conneaut each will seek $400,000, as well.

The grants are competitive and Ashtabula County has been successful in capturing its share of the money since at least the year 2000. Gates said more than 100 Ohio counties and communities will apply for the $19 million in grant money available. Two years ago, nearly $28 million was available; 84 communities applied and 56 were funded.

Gates said only $40,000 remains of the 2011 grant award it received. The money that remains is restricted to owner-occupied rehabilitation projects for low- to moderate-income households. A pro-rated lien is filed against the property, and Gates said that discourages some homeowners from using the program.

If the county receives the maximum award of $400,000, up to 19 homeowners in the county could benefit from the program. The distribution would be:

• $156,000 for home ownership. Up to four households would be assisted with down payments, closing costs and rehabilitation projects of up to $35,000.

• $117,000 for home repair. Up to 13 households would receive funding for “serious issues,” such as electrical and septic repairs, roofs and access ramps.

• $80,000 for private-owner rehabilitation. Two households would benefit from this funding, which requires filing of a pro-rated, forgivable lien.

The county would use $44,000 of the grant money for administration and $3,000 to provide residents with access to fair housing information.

The application, which is due April 5, sets aside Orwell Village as a target area. Gates said target areas help applications score slightly higher in the competitive process. But to qualify, the target area must have funding to leverage the money. Village Administrator Jack Nettis said village’s leverage will come from the Ohio Public Works Commission’s funding for the new water tower.

If the county receives the funding, a meeting will be held in the village to make residents aware of the options, which are geared to improving and making available affordable housing for citizens with low or moderate incomes.

“We look at the low-to-moderate-income level of the village, and also who has the leverage funds,” Gates said in deciding which village or township is targeted.

In the current funding cycle, Geneva-on-the-Lake is the target area. Gates said CHIP money was used for some home repair projects there. Rock Creek Village was the targeted area for the prior grant.