With roughly 150 homes affected by last year’s flooding, federal funding to fix up houses would be extremely welcome in the Schoharie County town of Esperance.
Homeowners with or without flood damage in Esperance are being called to a May 19 meeting aimed at drawing interest in home repair grants through the Community Development Block Grant program.
Without public participation, the town won’t stand a chance at getting its application to the top of the list in the competitive program, said Dolores Jackson, program manager at the Schoharie County Rural Preservation Corp.
“It’s definitely important that we get the people that need these funds and that we get them on a list,” Jackson said.
The CDBG program, administered by the state department of Homes and Community Renewal, can provide up to $400,000 in federal grants to municipalities such as towns for housing upgrades.
Jackson said the program would pay people money to repair foundations, perform electrical upgrades or roof replacement, among other items.
And through its relationship with the Schoharie County Community Action Program, projects also include an energy audit and work to improve a home’s efficiency.
Applicants have to meet income eligibility requirements to make sure money doesn’t go to people who don’t need the help.
A family’s income has to fall just below 80 percent of the federal median income limit for Schoharie County set at $62,500 for a family of four.
Esperance Town Supervisor Earl Van Wormer III said the town has applied for the grant several times but its application keeps getting shot down.
“It’s kind of discouraging,” Van Wormer said.
Despite little success, he intends to keep trying.
“If we can fix those properties up, first and foremost people will have a better quality of life,” Van Wormer said.
Upgraded homes would go a long way towards rebuilding property values in the town which lost an estimated $3 million in assessed value – between 5 and 10 percent of the town’s total assessment – to Tropical Storm Irene.
The meeting will be held Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Esperance Town Hall at 104 Charleston Street.
Jackson said people who are interested but can’t attend the meeting can still get on the list by contacting the Schoharie County Rural Preservation Corp. at 234-7604 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.