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Economy / Business

Manatee County provides low-income residents with funds to improve homes

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Steve Newborn
/
WUSF Public Media
Those chosen will have to meet income and property requirements among other qualifications.

Low-income homeowners can apply for the funding to make critical safety improvements such as upgrading electrical wiring, removing mold, or rebuilding the home altogether.

Finding affordable housing in the Tampa Bay region has only become more difficult.

Starting this week, Manatee County is taking applications for a program that helps some families upgrade their current homes or rebuild if necessary.

The county's Redevelopment and Economic Opportunity Department will provide about $900,000 in state funding to low-income homeowners who need to make critical safety improvements such as upgrading electrical wiring, removing mold, or rebuilding the home altogether.

Denise Thomas, the department's housing and community development manager, said recipients would otherwise not be able to finance these improvements or buy a new home.

"With the rising rents and rising costs of housing for many in this category of household income, they would not be able to afford the housing of today because the cost is substantially more than they can afford," she said.

Applications opened Monday and will close on Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. Those chosen will have to meet income and property requirements among other qualifications.

Once selected, recipients will be given a 0% interest deferred payment loan for 30 years, according to the county’s website. The loan only has to be repaid if the owner decides to leave or sell the house — and the repayment goes back into the fund for other residents, Thomas said.

She estimated the department will be able to help 11 families.

Many people in the county live in substandard housing that they can't afford to repair, she said. Meaning they may need electrical, plumbing, roofing, and other work done to their homes to make them safe.

"This provides an opportunity for them to be able to realize better, decent and safe housing but they wouldn't have that option if they had to go out and get a loan," Thomas said.

Residents can apply on the Manatee County Rehabilitation/Replacement program's web-page or call 941-749-3029 for assistance.