DECATUR — Amid heavy demand, another $800,000 will soon be available to low-income Decatur residents for home repairs.
The city was awarded a $400,000 grant from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, which it agreed to match. The grant funds are expected to be used primarily for roof replacements in the city's urban core.
Eligible uses for the grant funds are forgivable mortgage loans for households making below 80% of the area's median income and several kinds of repairs for those making 50% or less of the area median income.
According to the city, about 220 residents have requested a roof replacement.
In addition to accepting the grant fund and authorizing the match, the Decatur City Council on Monday unanimously approved an agreement with the Central Illinois Land Bank Authority to administer the program.
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This brings the total amount of housing-related funds the city has entrusted CILBA to administer up to $1.3 million since last year.
In January 2022, the council approved allocating $500,000 in federal American Rescue Plan funds towards an "abandonment to rehab" initiative, which aims to rehab vacant properties and prevent them from deteriorating to the point where demolition is necessary.
That program's initial aim was for the city to identify 10 vacant homes to purchase. Rehab would cost about $100,000 each with the goal of selling to a first-time homebuyer for $50,000.
The roof replacements to be funded by the latest program will cost less, but the need is greater. Some council members raised concerns about whether the latest round of funds were enough.
"While I appreciate that not only is this funding available, but there's other programs that the city of Decatur has launched that are associated with these types of revitalization projects," said Councilman David Horn. "I'm simply concerned that we don't have enough funds devoted to really revitalizing the neighborhoods."
Community development director Cordaryl Patrick acknowledged that "mathematically, looking at the list of properties that we have for the roof program, $400,000 is not enough." But, he said that there are other programs that address that same issue.
About $4 million was dedicated towards neighborhood revitalization in the fiscal year 2023 budget, which was approved by the council in December.
Half of that is dedicated to demolitions, with the city hoping to tear down 200 homes this year. Then $1 million apiece was earmarked towards owner- and renter-occupied home rehabilitation programs.
The owner-occupied home rehabilitation program was green-lit by the Decatur City Council in May. It assists homeowners within targeted areas of the city with roof repairs and energy efficient improvements such as new air conditioners and furnaces. Each project is capped at $50,000.
The council in September also approved the allocation of $450,000 to the Northeast Community Fund for a small repair grants program aimed at low- and moderate-income home owners in the city's urban core. Those grants are capped at $15,000.
Patrick said that several people are on several lists. Awardees are picked based on a lottery system that is targeting the city’s urban core, with homeowners inside those areas completing a pre-application, and those drawn from the lottery being notified by mail.
Councilwoman Lisa Gregory said the city has made good progress with the resources it has.
"Is it enough? No," Gregory said. "We're never going to be able to have 100% of the funding in one budget year nor would we be able to effectively use those dollars if we did have them."
Contact Brenden Moore at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @brendenmoore13.