Press release from the City of Fort Wayne:
Mayor kicks off homeowner improvement programs, taps 311 to make applying easier
NEW: Phoning 311 – One Call to City Hall is ONLY Way to Access Programs
Mayor Tom Henry today gave neighborhoods a boost with the release of about $700,000 in funds to assist homeowners with needed housing repairs and retrofits. For applicants, he streamlined the process and put the accent on “easy” by directing residents to the City’s One Call to City Hall number: 311 to access the programs.
“I know the demands of home ownership, the unexpected failure of a furnace or a hole in the roof that you just don’t have the resources to fix yourself,” said Mayor Henry. “In these tough times, these home improvement programs offer assistance to families who have been part of making our neighborhoods wonderful places to live, but whose resources are not stretching as far as they once did. With a simple call to 311, homeowners may find out that help is within reach.”
As part of the Mayor’s commitment to strengthening neighborhoods and making local government more responsive and cost effective, the City is employing its 311 call center to pre-qualify applicants. This is the first year that the system will become the one gateway for these home repair programs.
Interested homeowners need to call 311 or 427-8311 on Wednesday, April 7, 2010, the programs’ opening day. Calls will be accepted after 8 a.m. Call takers will guide callers through several questions to help determine eligibility and will set appointment times with loan specialists. Once 90 to 100 appointments have been made, the programs will close.
“We are always striving to find the most effective, efficient and fair way to accept applicants into the programs, which consistently receive a flood of requests,” said Heather Presley, director of housing and neighborhood services for the City. “We are grateful that Mayor Henry suggested we use the 311-One Call to City Hall system which is working so well for other City departments, services and programs. We believe this will be a very positive new component of our program and look forward to integrating 311 into our process.”
Designed to assist individuals and families who own homes within the boundaries of the city, the slate of housing programs offers a variety of options to meet the needs of specific groups, including:
- Homeowners who need assistance with repairing a roof, replacing windows or a furnace;
- Seniors who want to age in place but need handrails, grab bars, bathroom retrofits or other repairs; and
- Seniors or persons with disabilities whose homes need interior systems repairs or exterior repairs.
With additional information about these programs available on the City’s website at www.cityoffortwayne.org, details on some of the programs are as follows:
This program has a citywide focus to correct deficiencies in major household systems such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC or sanitary sewer.
Number to be served: Estimate of 60 owner occupants
This option addresses Neighborhood Code deficiencies and the repair of roofs, windows, siding, gutters or major exterior elements.
Number to be served: Estimate of 13 owner occupants
Senior and Disabled Retrofit
This is a program for persons with disabilities or age-related challenges that make it difficult for them to remain in their own homes. Renovations could include grab bars, broader doorways or bathroom remodeling to allow accessibility, as well as other repairs.
Number to be served: Estimate 10 owner occupants
Homeowners must fall into the “under 80 percent” of Area Median Income category to be included in the programs. As an example, for a household of two, total annual income can not exceed $40,500. A complete Area Median Income table is available on the City website at www.cityoffortwayne.org. Different programs are structured with different financial obligations, ranging from a low-interest loan to an outright grant. Loan specialists will work with those identified through the 311 pre-qualification process to help determine their eligibility and details of the terms.
In 2009, more than 1,000 applications were requested, roughly 400 were returned and approximately 80 projects were funded. By changing the process this year, the goal is to identify the fundable projects early so that homeowners know rather quickly whether their project will be approved.
All of the items covered by this program are expenses that should be covered by the homeowner. What right does the city have to tax me to fix my neighbors roof? Where does this authority come from?
Estimate of 60 owner occupants
$5,000 PER OWNER!
Estimate of 13 owner occupants
$15,000 PER OWNER!
Senior and Disabled Retrofit
Estimate 10 owner occupants
$20,000 PER OWNER!
Brad – this is federal funding administered by the City. It is from the HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program.