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Funding available for proposed Park Rapids utility project

If a proposed Green Acres watermain and sanitary sewer improvement project comes to fruition in Park Rapids, homeowners could be eligible for some funding programs.

Tim Flathers, with Headwaters Regional Development Commission, said he had heard about the project after a public hearing in February. Several people at that hearing said they could lose their homes if the project moved forward because of assessment costs. The area includes about 40 homes on Discovery Circle.

The total estimated project cost is $917,500 and will be financed through special assessments and a city share. According to the city's assessment policy, the watermain and sanitary sewer mains are assessed at 100 percent, water and sewer services are assessed at 100 percent and streets are assessed at 60 percent.

The estimated assessment per lot in the Green Acres addition is $16,900. The city share is $162,800.

The assessment costs don't include the cost a property owner would incur by hiring a plumber to hook up a home to the mains.

Flathers presented the City Council with several resources available to residents for housing rehabilitation including connecting to sewer and water services.

"Most programs are income-based," he said.

He thinks that many people in the area would qualify for something.

One program is the Minnesota Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program, which is available for home repairs needed to improve livability, accessibility or energy efficiency, including connection to municipal services. The program offers 0 percent interest deferred payment loans. The maximum income is $25,200 for a family of four. Limited funding is available.

A Greater Minnesota Housing Fund Deferred Payment Loan program is also available. The program offers 0 percent interest deferred payment loans, which come due in full in 30 years when the first mortgage is satisfied or when the homeowner no longer occupies the home. The maximum income is 80 percent of the area median, which is currently $48,000 for a family of four. Limited funding is available.

Another option is USA Rural Development loans at 1 percent interest to low income homeowners in need of home improvements. The maximum income is $29,600 for a family of four. Grants of up to $7,500 are also available to eligible householders over 62 years old.

Housing and Redevelopment in-house loans are available to assist households unable to qualify for bank financing.

The Minnesota Housing Fix Up Fund has loans available up to $35,000 through local banks.

Another option Flathers suggested was for the city to apply for the Small Cities Development Program. If the city received funding, then homeowners could apply with the city. The income limit is $48,000 for a family of four.

He suggested conducting a survey in the neighborhood to see what household incomes are in the area. That way the city could determine who would qualify for Small Cities Development Program funding.

City Administrator Bill Smith said he would send information about these loan programs to homeowners in Discovery Circle. For more information about funding resources call Hubbard County HRA at 732-9118.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561