State program benefits 3 county homeowners
by Rory Doyle
Jan 03, 2013 | 2563 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Three homeowners in Bolivar County will have a prosperous start to 2013 thanks to funding from the Mississippi Development Authority and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Around $300,000 in grant money has been awarded so the three homeowners from Cleveland, Duncan and Shaw will have their houses rebuilt in the first quarter this year.

The funding comes from the Home Investment Partnerships Grant Program for Homeowner Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Projects to provide assistance to families that are reconstructing or making major repairs to a home.

Bolivar County Administrator Will Hooker confirmed the funding as he presented at the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors meeting on Dec. 4.

"We are very grateful to receive money that will go a long way in bringing three new homes to the county," said Hooker. "Thanks to the assistance of attorney John Cox we were able to get over the final legal issues before the grant was awarded.

"It's been around eight-10 years since we last received this grant, so we're very excited to move forward, get these houses done and reapply for more money."

There are strict guidelines for homeowners who are eligible to apply for the grant, including complete ownership of the house, the home must be in dire need of repairs and the homeowner must be in a low-income financial bracket.

Hooker said receiving the money is a very competitive process considering applicants for the grant come from across Mississippi.

Funding from the program can be used by municipalities, counties and relevant non-profits to assist the eligible homeowners — these entities often apply on behalf of the homeowners.

The funds are applied for annually.

"There are a lot of deserving people in Bolivar County but the process is extremely competitive," added Hooker. "This is why it's imperative we complete these houses efficiently and continue to be competitive with our applications."

Decent, safe, sanitary and affordable housing is the ultimate goal of the HOME program, with HUD making the final determination on applicants.

Repairs focus on correcting defects in plumbing, roofing, heating and insulation, but houses in great disrepair can also be demolished and rebuilt, as is the case with the Bolivar County recipients.

Hooker said he has been working closely with the South Delta Planning and Development District as the grant administrator.

SDPDD, serving Bolivar and five surrounding counties, provides technical assistance to the counties and municipalities in their varied activities.

As an increasing number of federal programs are passed to the states, SDPDD is continually called upon to assist in developing the delivery of these services to local residents.

"The board of supervisors is thrilled to be bringing three new homes to the county," said Hooker. "This is great news moving into the New Year."