HOUSTON – The state has $3.9 million that will be made available to cities and counties for home renovation and Houston is applying for some of that money.
Houston’s Board of Aldermen voted last week to apply for these state funds and – if they are successful in obtaining the grant – will need qualified homeowners to come in and fill out an application.
“We are a distressed county when it comes to housing and we’ve been told Houston does qualify for a portion of this money and has a good chance of getting something,” said Houston Mayor Stacey Parker. “This money can be used to renovate and in some cases almost rebuild substandard homes.”
Parker said two major qualifications to be eligible for this money are:
• The property must be owned and lived in by the person making the application.
• The owner must qualify as a low income or very-low income person.
The city will host a public hearing at 1 p.m. Thursday at City Hall for those interested in finding out more about this project.
Parker said the program may be ideal for some local homeowners living on fixed income.
“I have been told we have property on key streets in this town that probably qualifies,” said Parker. “I think this is a good project and could really help spruce up some very visible property in our town.”
Parker said the money will be awarded on a competitive scale and based on need.
Thursday’s meeting will be used to gather citizen input on this grant and to initially target neighborhoods and homes that might qualify for this money.
The Houston Board of Aldermen has embarked on a city-wide property cleanup over the past several years in an effort to make the major streets and gateways to the community more presentable. The opening of the Tanglefoot Trail has also spurred the city to clean up industrial property and neighborhoods along the trail in anticipation of the tourist the Trail will bring to town.
The funds for this grant are being allocated by the Mississippi Development Authority under the HOME Investment Partnerships Homeowners Rehabilitation Program.
HOME is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income applicants. Each year it allocates approximately $2 billion among the states and hundreds of localities nationwide.
Local entities can receive up to $500,000 in grants for qualified programs.
“I think this could be a real shot in the arm for local contractors if we can get some of this money spent on homes in Houston,” said Parker. “We’ve looked at this and it seems to be a win-win situation for the city.”
The board voted unanimously to host the public meeting, seek the grant and begin accepting applications.