The city of Columbus is accepting a $245,000 federal grant to help qualifying residents improve their homes.

Columbus City Council members Tuesday accepted the Department of Housing and Urban Development grant to be used for rehabilitation projects to help residents stay in their homes as they get older.

Administered through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, the grant will be used to provide three-year forgivable loans to an estimated 14 Columbus homeowners who have qualified. As long as individuals stay in their homes three years after the improvements, the loan is forgiven, Hilber said. A portion must be paid back if the homeowner moves out of the home before the three-year deadline.

Home improvements to income-eligible recipients include electric, heating, cooling or plumbing upgrades, roofs, windows and doors, removing lead-based paint, accessibility ramps, bathroom safety upgrades, door widening for wheelchairs, kitchen modifications and improved lighting. Each homeowner can receive up to $15,000 for projects, said Robin S. Hilber, city community development programs coordinator.

To be eligible, homeowners must live within the city limits, be age 55 or older or a disabled household and the home must be on a permanent foundation and insured.

The city sought applicants for grant proceeds in May 2016 and by June had received 27 applications, Hilber said.

Of those, three were not in the city limits and three exceeded the income limitations, leaving 21 as possibly eligible for grant funding, she said.

The city requested the maximum of $350,000 and learned in August 2016 the city would receive $245,000, or 70 percent of the grant request. The city’s matching portion of the grant is $30,000, Hilber said.

Hilber said she hopes that the city will receive additional block grant money to help the other applicants in some way.

The federal money in the grant program is left over from the city’s Disaster Relief II grant award after the 2008 flood, Hilber said.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.