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Federal assistance for home repairs down

Clark County is receiving $400K to help low- and moderate-income families.

Clark County is receiving nearly $93,000 less in federal funds aimed at providing low- and moderate- income families assistance with home repairs and other needs than it received three years ago.

Clark County received $400,000 in Community Housing Improvement Program funds, down from $492,800 in 2010.

The cuts come at a time when the need for emergency home repairs and other assistance is growing, Clark County Department of Development coordinator Tom Hale said.

“The county definitely needs this. There are a lot of struggling families who can’t maintain their homes,” Hale said.

CHIP is funded through the Ohio Department of Development, which communities can apply for every other year.

The program helps families, especially the elderly, who in some cases due to health and safety hazards could be forced to leave their home if they do not get the emergency assistance, David Fleck, grant coordinator for the Clark County Department of Development said.

The program covers plumbing, roof and furnace repairs, lead based paint reduction, and also aids with other structural issues. People with disabilities who need ramps or have other accessibility needs can also receive assistance through the program, Fleck said.

Penny Martin, a spokeswoman for the state’s Office of Community Development, said the drop in funding is due to federal funding cuts that impacted communities across Ohio.

In 2010, the state allocated about $32 million to about 70 applicants.

With budget cuts, this year the state distributed more than $25 million to about 66 applicants, Martin said.

Clark County officials plan to rehabilitate six homes and repair 12 throughout the county, according to an application submitted to the state.

“The county selected New Carlisle as their CHIP target area, pledging $100,000 to that area. The balance of the funding is to be spent within the county, outside the Springfield city limits,” Martin said.

Fleck said the New Carlisle-Park Layne community was selected in part due to the high concentration of low income residents in the area who live in aging homes.

Applicants must meet 2013 federal poverty guidelines. In Clark County, a family of four can earn up to $43,200.

“A lot of folks we’ve helped in the past are seniors on fixed incomes. They want to stay in their homes and this grant is one of the best ways to help them,” Fleck said.

The structures that will benefit from the CHIP grant are not dilapidated homes, but those that need numerous repairs, Hale said.

“They’re at a point where the windows, roof, furnace all need to be done at the same time, but they don’t have the money to make all of those repairs at one time,” Hale said.

Hale said although the county receive a 20 percent cut in funding, officials plan to assist about the same number of homes as in 2010, but provide fewer repairs to the homes.

“Because of the drop in funding we won’t be able to do as much,” Hale said.

Clark County Community Development is expected to begin accepting applications in December and begin working on projects in early 2014.

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