Two eligible veterans residing within the Salem city limits can still apply for assistance through the Welcome Home program and receive up to $23,000 in home renovations based on need.
The Welcome Home program is funded by a grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB), sponsored by Riverways Federal Credit Union (RFCU), and administered by the City of Salem.
The program provides up to $25,000 in home improvements for up to 25 owner-occupied homes if owners or residents meet certain low-income criteria, of which $2,000 is intended to pay for inspections and other costs administrative.
Six owner-occupied houses are reserved for veterans.
If veterans do not apply, these funds cannot be used.
“Veterans are often among the last people to ask for help,” said Sally Burbridge, director of economic development for the city of Salem. Many veterans would rather see others getting help than themselves, which is why it’s important for them to realize that these funds are specifically intended to help them.
Burbridge also pointed out that for the criteria, the veteran does not need to be the owner of their household to qualify.
“If a veteran lives there, the house may qualify as long as the owner also lives there,” Burbridge said.
The type of work included in the application criteria includes insulation, new windows, heating/air system, roof requiring repair or replacement, etc.
Applicants should understand that this is a long-term home improvement and that the repairs will be of the type that will significantly benefit the homeowner and their family.
The program targets people with low incomes, detained (or occupied by veterans), the elderly, and homes with residents with disabilities.
Owners will be required to contribute 20% of the cost of the projects, which totals up to a maximum amount of $5,000 in consideration. This consideration may be money the owner already has on hand or may be acquired through a loan and, in some cases, assistance from other programs.
According to Burbridge, this program has the potential to have a significant impact on this specific subset of people in need. Welcome Home’s goal is to put people in a better financial position by the end of the program. The program is not focused on cosmetic upgrades. Depending on the extent of renovations needed in a home, there may not be enough funds to fix all the problems; however, according to Burbridge, the focus will be on prioritizing some of the home’s biggest renovation needs.
A happy side effect of helping individuals in the community is the overall benefit these renovations provide to the community as a whole by increasing property values by helping low-income people build equity, reducing the costs of public services, as well as improving the health conditions of homes, etc.
“Take your pick, it’s good for the general well-being of the community,” Burbridge said.
“Everyone in our community deserves the benefits of a warm, safe home that contributes to overall health and well-being,” Burbridge said.
The application process is quite simple, but may take some time.
• First, the process begins with completing a pre-application. One can be picked up either at the Salem City Administration office from Burbridge or Missy Canaday, a City of Salem administrative assistant who does much of the work for the Welcome Home program, or you can find one a copy on the City of Salem website or attached at the bottom of this story;
• Second, once the pre-application is completed and submitted, Canaday will contact applicants for the next step, which includes verifying the income of each person over the age of 18 living in the home, regardless of their relationship to the landlord and veterans are required. to provide their discharge papers;
• Third, once Canaday receives the appropriate documentation, it will incorporate the relevant information into a program used by the FHLB to determine whether or not an applicant is eligible;
• Fourth, there is a post-verification waiting process—the program operates in six rounds with one household in each category (the final round will be a round of 5 households instead of four).
The first four rounds are currently each in different phases.
• The first-round homes have already been inspected and made available to contractors to bid on. According to Burbridge, she hopes to have contractor award projects on the agenda for the September 15 Council of Aldermen meeting.
• Round two candidates have recently completed their pre-inspections.
• Round 3 applicants have completed their paperwork and are awaiting a pre-inspection to define bid specifications.
• The fourth round has two candidates who have completed their procedures and are waiting for two other candidates to move on to the next phase.
• The fifth and sixth rounds have yet to receive any nominations, including the two veteran slots mentioned in this story.
Burbridge hopes others in the community will see what needs to be resolved through this and take steps to share this information with people they know who may be eligible.
“Anyone can go through the pre-application with landlords,” Burbridge said. Then they can submit the request.
According to Burbridge, successful homeowners will be required to attend homeowner counseling and financial education provided by RFCU as part of the grant agreement.
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