Home improvement grants are available


Express News Staff

LAKE PLEASANT - Hamilton County has over $400,000 to help low-income homeowners, including the elderly and disabled, repair their homes.

Low-income means homeowners with income below 60 percent of the area median.

When the Board of Supervisors met Thursday, May 2, it adopted updated guidelines and administrative procedures established by the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the state Affordable Home Ownership Development Program (AHC).

Jim Thatcher of Avalon Associates Inc., Glens Falls, which administers the plan for the county, explained, "HOME funds can be used for rehabilitation of homes occupied by lower income residents; up to $30,000 per eligible housing unit to eliminate severe [building] code and health and safety problems, including wells and septic system work.

"HOME ($283,000) funds can be combined with AHC ($208,000) funding to stretch the HOME grant to more projects; AHC funds will support 60 percent of the project costs for each case and HOME will cover 40 percent."

Previously, the county used 100 percent HOME funding.

The county has received $1.96 million in federal housing rehabilitation funding (six HOME grants and one AHC grant) since 2003, helping repair nearly 80 single-family homes.


Thatcher highlighted some of the requirements, such as mortgage, home insurance and property tax payments being up to date. The up-to-date mortgage requirement excludes homeowners who have reverse mortgages.

Household income includes the total income of all members of a household, including wages or salary, Social Security payments, pensions, unemployment or disability benefits, interest and dividends, income from real estate or business activities and any other cash received by any adult member of the household.

Income limits range from a low of $12,600 yearly for a one-person family at 30 percent of the median income to a high of $47,400 for an eight-person family at 60 percent of median income.

Eligible improvements include fixing structural, mechanical and other major problems using the following system of priorities:

-- Priority 1 - code violations and other serious health or safety problems, including wells and septic systems;

-- Priority 2 - insulation, weatherization and other energy conservation and "green" improvements; and

-- Priority 3 - other repairs to address serious mechanical and structural problems.


Thatcher told the supervisors, "Continued annual funding applications ... should be part of regional economic development strategies for the county.

"We need to consider future AHC applications that could fund 100 percent of the rehabilitation project costs and provide administration support if federal HOME funds continue to shrink due to national budget cuts.

"AHC was changed to a stand-alone program this year. This may allow slightly higher income limits for homeowners and allow for two- or three-family properties."

Local general contractors and subcontractors hired by the owners do all the work. The loans do not have to be repaid as long as the homeowner complies with the program's requirements.

A prorated portion of the loan will be repaid to the county if the property is sold or if the occupants move within five years after the project is completed.

To obtain a pre-application form call Avalon Associates Inc. at (518) 798-0777 Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check with a local town supervisor for more information.