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DAEOC funding will help families make home repairs

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

PORTAGEVILLE -- Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation has again received funding to provide home repair assistance for rural homeowners.

Missouri Housing Development Commission recently awarded DAEOC in Portageville with $60,000 of the $1 million available through federal home repair funds under the 2005 Home Repair Opportunities program.

According to Tasha Treece, housing director for DAEOC, funds will be used on a first-come, first serve basis for home repair in the six counties DAEOC serves: Dunklin, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Scott and Stoddard counties.

"This home repair funding is used to bring houses up to code and if the community we're working in doesn't have a local code, we use the federal code," Treece explained.

In the last 18 months DAEOC has assisted 45 homeowners bring their homes up to code with HeRO funding, Treece noted.

HeRO funds can be used for repairing owner-occupied structures. Services may include siding installation, roof repair and replacement, insulation, electrical and plumbing repairs, Treece said.

In the past, for example, DAEOC has helped people where the communities have sent 'condemned' letters because the homeowners have raw sewage leakage.

"Typically the homeowners we serve have poor credit as well as no resources to pay back a home improvement loan," Treece said. "With this program we can go in and fix the house and keep it from being condemned."

Although this is the third year DAEOC is receiving HeRO funds, the amount has gotten smaller. In 2003, DAEOC received $400,000 and in 2004 it was awarded $175,000 for home repairs.

"With this year's funding DAEOC will only be able to help three to four homeowners in bringing their homes up to code with HeRO funding," Treece predicted.

Nine other community agencies throughout the state were allocated funds as well.

"We have added a provision that unused funds can be recaptured after six months and reallocated to agencies that have committed all of their initial allocation," Mark Stalsworth, MHDC homeownership manager, in a news release. "We think this will allow flexibility to ensure all the funds are used for home repairs where needed the most."

And there's another change this year.

"This year, in order for us to target mid-level income persons, we are restricting the use of the Home Repair Opportunity funds to households between the 50 and 80 percent of median," explained David Bryan, public information administrator Missouri Housing Development Commission. He added the Commission has other money from the Missouri Housing Trust Fund that is targeted for low and very low income persons.

DAEOC's $60,000 from the federal HOME program can be used by persons at or above 50 percent median income and at or below 80 percent of median income, Bryan said. The maximum income for participants in any Missouri county is usually between $35,500 and $51,600 for a family of four, according to Missouri Housing Development Commission.

For example, in Dunklin County, a four-person household can earn between $35,500 (80 percent of median) and $17,600 (50 percent of median) to be eligible for the program, Bryan said.

Normally the HeRO funding is used for people who make 80 percent below the Area Median Income, which is why DAEOC's waiting list for HeRO funding consists primarily of homeowners below 50 percent of the AMI, Treece said.

Now Treece isn't sure if those people will receive the help they were expecting. Treece will continue to apply for grants to assist those who fall under the income guidelines of this year's HeRO funding, she assured. "DAEOC's mission is to help the low-income," Treece said. "And the majority of our clientele falls below 50 percent of the area median income."

For more information or to apply for funding, contact Treece at (573) 379-3851.