Rehab funds on tap



October 1, 2012 - 12:00 AM

Iola has $150,000 burning a hole in the city’s proverbial pockets.
With four months left to spend the funds, a handful of city officials took it upon themselves to find folks who can use the money.
A pair of teams went door to door Thursday, canvassing a nine-square-block neighborhood in southeast Iola to find homeowners to apply for the funds, in the form of Community Development Block Grants.
City Administrator Carl Slaugh, City Councilman David Toland and code enforcement office employees visited 76 homes along First through Fourth streets, between Madison and Spruce, and all stops in between.
The goal is to find five more homes eligible to receive up to $22,000 apiece for basic home improvements — roof work, siding, windows, electrical wiring, etc.
The funding comes in the form of a grant and does not need to be repaid, although there are income guidelines.
A family of four, for example, cannot earn more than $42,250 in annual salary.
The grant funding is available from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
There is a sense of urgency, noted Shonda Jefferis, Iola’s code enforcement officer.
If the money is not spent, it counts against the city in future efforts to receive Department of Commerce grants.
The city’s deadline to spend the money, or at least have it allocated for home repair, is Jan. 31.
Even rental properties may be eligible, Jefferis said, although property owners in that case may be required to contribute up to 25 percent of a project’s cost.
If home improvement funds aren’t spent, Jefferis said as many as three vacant homes could be demolished using CDBG funds.
“But we’ll worry about that later,” she said.
The city has fielded several calls in recent days as officials have ramped up efforts to publicize the grant opportunities.
“Unfortunately, many of those have come from people outside the target area,” Jefferis said.

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