City wants to find someone to use up $9,000 housing rehab fund

HARTINGTON —  The city of Hartington wants to give away some money.
For the past couple of Hartington City Council meetings, now, the city has discussed a long untouched Housing Rehabilitation fund.
Judy Joy, a Housing Loan Specialist with the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District, told Council members Monday the fund is from a 2002 housing rehabilitation grant.
In 2009, the city did a housing rehabilitation project here, which depleted their original grant funds down to around $10,000. NENEC administrative fees for handling the  account have since depleted it down to around $9,000.
Council members want to see those funds used, and not just whittled away by annual administrative fees, so they asked Joy to come to Monday’s meeting to explain some options.
“Unfortunately, the state has rules and regs that we have to go through when we want to rehab a property,” Joy told Council members.
Before a property can be approved for a housing rehabilitation or weatherization project, it must first be inspected to make sure it meets state guidelines. One of those guidelines, Joy said, is the requirement that no lead paint has been used on the house. This often times causes problems for an older home.
“These are items we have to take care of, forcing the property owners to fix those items up before we can approve a grant project,” Joy said.
Because of these additional guidelines, the city’s $9,000 housing rehab fund, just isn’t enough, Joy said. A project as simple as reshingling a house can often cost upwards of $20,000 when removal of lead paint is factored in, she said.
Joy said if the city can find an applicant who wants to use these grant funds to improve their home, the NENEC District would be happy to help provide the remaining funds for the project.
“If we saw a house that needed $20,000 in repairs we would utilize your $9,000 and the balance could come from our resources so in essence there would be two separate loans,” she said.
After learning more about the program and options for using up the funds, Council members agreed they would like to find someone who could use the money.
“There has got to be some need out there. Someone that could use the help and meet these guidelines,” Council member Deb Addison said.
Councilman Cody Christensen agreed.
“I’d like to get this money appropriated out to someone. I don’t want to see this money just dwindle away in administrative fees,” he said.
Anyone who is interested in applying for these home improvement and rehabilitation funds, is urged to contact the Hartington City Office or the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District office in Norfolk.