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Gainesville to seek funding to help homeowners on fixed income with repairs
City of Gainesville Administrative Building1
Development, expanding public transportation and road infrastructure projects, and improving code enforcement and public safety were among the priorities identified by the Gainesville City Council during its annual retreat Friday.

Gainesville plans to seek $600,000 in federal grant money that could be used in part to help homeowners on fixed income repair their homes.

At a city council work session Thursday, elected officials got behind the effort.

Council gave the greenlight to special projects manager Jessica Tullar to apply and receive the grant, which is made available through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Tullar said the city is eligible to apply for another round of funding through the Community Home Investment Program, better known as CHIP. She said the money could be used to fix homes, help a homebuyer with a down payment or to construct affordable homes.

“Almost every year that we apply it’s been about $300,000,” Tullar said. “They’ve changed the guidelines to add new construction.”

Local governments that receive funding through the program set the priorities on how the money is used, according to Samanta Carvalho, who manages CHIP for the state.

“Some of our grantees may decide that they want to prioritize people who are over a certain age, or they may want to focus on particular neighborhoods,” Carvalho said. “It’s really up to them when they apply to us and they receive the funding.”

Carvalho said the state receives a federal allocation of home funds from the U.S. Department of Urban Development. She said Georgia received $15 million last year, of which about $5 million goes to CHIP and the rest supports the home loan program to build affordable rental properties through low-income tax credits.

To qualify for CHIP assistance, participants have to make less than 80 percent of the average median income.

“Often, the people we are supporting are on fixed income and they really can’t keep up the maintenance on their home that they may have been living in for 20 or 30 years,” Carvalho said.

She said 25 jurisdictions applied for CHIP funding in 2017 and 12 received grants. In 2016, 35 applied and 16 received grants. The deadline to submit applications is Dec. 1.

Tullar told council that she likes the changes made to the program.

“It’s going to be a two-year cycle, so we’ll have two years to spend the money that is awarded,” she said.

Carvalho said local governments that receive a grant must spend more than 50 percent of the money they received before they can apply for another grant.

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