Scottsbluff applying for $750,000 owner-occupied housing rehabilitation

Panhandle Area Development District Deputy Director Brian Venable addresses the Scottsbluff City Council Friday morning. The council approved having PADD submit an application for a $750,000 owner-occupied housing grant.

SCOTTSBLUFF — The City of Scottsbluff will be applying for A Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $750,000.

Panhandle Area Development District Deputy Director Brad Venable said there have been 35 pre-applications for the Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation program. Through a housing study conducted in 2016, it was determined that Scottsbluff has a need for rehabilitation of housing to benefit low- to moderate-income households. Under the program funded by the State of Nebraska, homeowners can receive up to $25,000 for repair and rehabilitation on their properties. The council gave approval to the application at a special meeting Friday morning. PADD will administer the grant on behalf of the City. The City is not proposing any matching funds for the program.

For income-qualified households (at or below 80% of the median income as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development), there is some assistance to help renovate and bring them up to a minimum standard, make them more livable, address energy-efficiency issues and also address accessibility issues for handicapped individuals, Venable said.

The application will be sent in right away, and the hope is to hear back from the state by mid-December for administration of the grants in early 2020.

Venable said the pre-application process was conducted to assess the interest in the program, and he was encouraged by the 35 applications submitted.

“Those people will get first chance to make a formal application,” Venable said. “There will be another application process, and we’ll go through a pre-qualification process to make sure that they’re income-qualified and that their house meets the standards to be able to be eligible for renovations.”

There is a $25,000 limit per household with the funds paid directly to contractors performing the work. After the renovations are completed, the home cannot exceed 90% of the median value of homes in the community.

“The program is strictly targeted, 100% to benefit low- to moderate-income households,” Venable said.

The owner occupied rehabilitation program is wide-spread across the region and state, and Venable said PADD has in the past administered the program with good results in other communities such as Gordon and Rushville.

“Some of the other Development Districts - South Central and Northeast - do three to four a year, to the point where they’ve actually got to a point where they’ve rehabbed every house that’s available for rehab within the community over a 10- or 15-year period,” Venable said. “It’s something that, once these houses are done, that doesn’t stop us from applying again. The opportunity is there to continue to address additional houses as more come up.”

When homes are improved through the program, Venable said it often has a ripple-effect in the neighborhood.

“As a house is renovated,” he said, “their neighbors tend to want to bring their houses up to similar standards, so you can actually get a stimulus to redevelop entire neighborhoods.”

mark.mccarthy@starherald.com

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at mark.mccarthy@starherald.com.

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