The city of Albion is putting to use almost $350,000 earmarked for housing rehabilitation projects that has been sitting in a city bank account since 2000.
A contract agreement finalized Monday between the city and the Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan will allow Albion residents who meet income restrictions to apply for up to a $35,000 interest-free, deferred loan to renovate and bring their homes up to current building code.
The money is left from a Community Development Block Grant awarded more than a decade ago. City Manager Mike Herman said the city has not been able to use the money because a planning department no longer exists to administer the necessary legwork for rehabilitation projects.
The city will pay CAA 18 percent of the sum of the loans it helps distribute within the Albion community.
“It’s a fantastic partnership, and our ability to better the housing stock in Albion is huge,” said Amy Rose Wallace-Robinson, senior manager of housing rehabilitation at CAA.
Herman said the initial money being put into the program would focus on helping eight to 12 homeowners in a 121-house radius in the northwest region of the city.
“In order to cluster the spending and have the most impact in a neighborhood … we are planning on canvassing that neighborhood with Community Action Agency fliers saying we are now going to be working in the area with those who need major home repairs,” Wallace-Robinson said.
Applicants can make no more than 80 percent of the current median area income annually — $42,100 for a family of four — but Wallace-Robinson said CAA will “likely be helping people below 60 percent of the current median income.”
Herman said the program has the potential to open up a plethora of new funding avenues for the city.
“Community Action Agency has access to the countywide program so they can do areas outside of here, plus they have access to other programs, like home weatherization and some other things,” he said.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on June 9, 2011