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Home sweet home: Johnson County cities offer aid to homeowners

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Paralyzed from a swimming accident 36 years in the past, Mission resident Carl Siefering is unable to look after the house he has lived in for the previous 33 years.

Siefering is just in a position to sit up in a wheelchair for a number of hours every day. In November, Mission Possible, a housing program operated by the town, stepped up to assist.

Volunteers from Johnson County Water District 1 assisted by Habitat for Humanity/Kansas City and the town of Mission spent a weekday scraping and portray his home to convey it up to metropolis code requirements. They additionally raked his yard, disposed of leaves and trimmed bushes.

“I’m ecstatic that they’re painting my house,” Siefering stated. “They’re making it possible for me to stay in my home. I’ve been concerned about taking care of it.”

Siefering is one in every of many Johnson County residents benefiting from housing help packages provided by quite a lot of communities in addition to the county. Typically, the packages present funding for minor house repairs, together with paint, roofing, siding, gutters and window alternative.

While a few of these packages have monetary eligibility necessities, others present grants with the one qualification that the house be situated inside the metropolis and be owner-occupied quite than leases.

Housing help packages additionally profit cities as a result of members are typically residents who don’t have enough revenue to adjust to metropolis codes to improve their residence.

“These programs enable us to help people who otherwise would be unable to care for their homes,” stated Nilo Fanska, Mission’s neighborhood providers officer. “In Carl’s case we’re helping him to remain in his home.”

There are some apparent advantages for volunteers too.

“It’s good we’re doing this…It’s for a great cause,” stated Chante Mitchell, a University of Kansas scholar interning at Johnson County Water District 1 and a volunteer on the Siefering undertaking.

Fanska stated Mission started working with Habitat for Humanity by way of its Brush With Kindness program on the home portray undertaking a few yr in the past.

“The holdup was the home tested positive for lead paint, which needed to be abated before work could begin,” he stated.

Steve Thompson, Habitat for Humanity’s vice chairman of development, stated Johnson County Water District 1 offered the $5,000 wanted for the lead abatement.

Brush With Kindness is at present on maintain due to a merger between the Kansas and Missouri Habitat for Humanity organizations, Thompson stated, however he hopes this system might be reinstated within the spring.

Habitat for Humanity Kansas City and Heartland Habitat for Humanity merged on July 1. Now often known as Habitat for Humanity/Kansas City, the group serves six counties within the Kansas City area, together with Johnson County.

Another Mission resident who has acquired assist by means of Mission Possible stated sustaining a house is troublesome on a hard and fast revenue. He requested not be named.

“My wife and I are both on Social Security, and any extra money we have has gone to pay my medical bills,” he stated. “I’ve had a brain tumor and prostate cancer, so we’ve had a lot of medical expenses.”

The 50-year Mission resident certified for $2,000 in metropolis help, which was used to substitute his residence’s unique home windows severely broken from wooden rot.

The 85-year-old resident has been retired for 20 years. “The program is wonderful for those of us who want to stay in our homes and are physically and mentally able to do so but don’t always have the money to keep up our homes,” he stated.

Fanska stated Mission Possible has been in existence about eight years. The program offers monetary help for low- and medium-income households to use for minor residence repairs. About $35,000 is allotted to this system yearly.

“The number of residents served varies from year to year, but this year we’ve had 25 projects in progress or completed,” Fanska stated. Residents can qualify for quantities starting from $500 to $2,000.

In Prairie Village, Kirk and Rachel Chonis took benefit of that metropolis’s exterior grant program earlier this yr. The younger couple acquired a grant to assist enhance the outside of their first residence.

The venture concerned including new home windows, entry doorways, siding, fascia and gutters to their house at 79th Street and Roe Avenue. The metropolis reimburses residents for 20 % of complete venture prices exceeding $5,000. The most grant award is $2,500.

“Getting money back was very helpful,” stated Kirk Chonis. “The city is acknowledging that neighborhoods are aging and they’re willing to put money back into the neighborhoods to help homeowners improve the appearance of their homes.”

To apply for this system, Chonis stated he submitted the scope and projected complete venture value to the town. Once the enhancements have been accomplished, a metropolis inspector examined the venture to make sure the work met metropolis codes. Receipts have been scanned to be sure that all prices had been paid.

“It was extremely easy,” he stated. “The city even allows you to do some of the work yourself, providing leeway and options.”

Prairie Village City Administrator Quinn Bennion stated Prairie Village was overwhelmed by requests when it first instituted a housing help program.

“In the early years of our programs we had lines of people waiting to pick up applications the day the process started,” Bennion stated. “It’s not as many people now, but we still use our entire budget annually,” which quantities to about $70,000.

Lenexa carried out a minor house restore grant program earlier this yr. Since then, the town has been inundated with requests from residents for grant cash obtainable from the $50,000 program, stated Angel Whitaker, group requirements supervisor.

“We will only be able to help eight to 10 people and we’ve already had requests from 70 people,” she stated.

Homeowners who qualify obtain grants for minor house repairs reminiscent of exterior wooden rot restore and paint; roof, window, door or gutter restore or alternative; basis restore; and accessibility modifications.

Olathe presents three packages to assist residents with residence repairs and modifications. These contain a deferred mortgage program, which allows residents who want to make main repairs apply for interest-free loans which are deferred till the property is bought; an emergency restore program; and an accessibility modification program for revenue eligible homeowners.

David Parnell, coordinator of Olathe’s Housing Rehabilitation program, stated the town receives about 30 purposes a yr for housing help.

A nonprofit group working in Shawnee allows residents to stay of their houses. Rebuilding Together Shawnee is affiliated with Rebuilding Together, a nationwide nonprofit low-income house restore group. It is devoted to serving to aged, disabled and economically deprived homeowners. Services are offered free to these in want.

Cities additionally present monetary help to a housing help program operated by Johnson County. By offering funds, residents of these cities are in a position to take part in this system. Among the collaborating communities are Overland Park, Shawnee, Merriam, Prairie Village, Leawood and Roeland Park.

The packages embrace a HOME Investment Partnership program and a Minor Home Rehabilitation program.

The HOME program was approved in 1990 and is primarily funded by the federal Housing and Urban Development company, stated Sharon Watson, Johnson County director of public affairs and communication. Fourteen tasks have been accomplished underneath this system this yr.

The program is designed to deliver a house into compliance with native housing codes. Assistance is offered as a deferred cost mortgage, interest-free and is forgiven 10 % per yr for 10 years. If the property modifications possession, the remaining quantity of the mortgage have to be repaid.

The county additionally operates the Minor Home Rehabilitation Program, which is funded by HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program for Johnson County and Overland Park and Shawnee. A complete of 54 tasks have been accomplished underneath this system this yr.

About 80 individuals are on the ready record for the HOME program. There is not any wait listing for the minor house rehab program.

While the necessity for housing help stays regular, out there funds are declining due to cutbacks in federal funds, Watson stated.

That’s not been an issue in Mission, which has funds out there to proceed to help its Mission Possible program, Fanska stated.

“We’re really fortunate to have this program because we receive immediate satisfaction from helping people,” he stated. “It’s very rewarding.”



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