Decatur launches home repair assistance program

DECATUR — Starting Monday, some Decatur homeowners will have the opportunity to apply for grants to fund their home repair projects.

The City of Decatur on Thursday officially launched its new owner-occupied Small Home Improvement Program (SHIP), a grant program targeting low- to middle-income homeowners in Decatur’s urban core.

City officials hope the project will lead to improvements in some of Decatur’s declining homes.

“Neighborhood revitalization has been a huge goal of the Decatur City Council for many, many years, but it’s about more than just demolishing abandoned homes and old buildings,” Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said. “It’s about building the community.”

The city’s goal, Moore Wolfe said, isn’t to demolish everything, but to “re-grow these neighborhoods.”

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Moore Wolfe and other city officials on Thursday handed over a check for $450,000 to the Northeast Community Fund, which will provide the grants to Decatur residents.

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The council approved the financing earlier this month. The program is just one of many neighborhood revitalization efforts funded by the city’s federal U.S. bailout funds.

Northeast will start accepting SHIP applications on Monday. Representatives of the organization said the program will help improve the living conditions of many deserving members of the community.

“Given the mission of our organization, it was difficult for us to hear that we had people in our community who wanted to stay in their homes, but had to live on paychecks, or better yet, on a steady income, and couldn’t afford it. afford to make the necessary or need repairs to their homes,” said Angel Lawrence, executive director of Northeast.

“Everyone has the right to food and shelter,” said Taylor Hardy, the agency’s director of microfinance.

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Homeowners must meet multiple requirements to qualify for SHIP, including owning a home in the designated neighborhood and being free of any back taxes or outstanding fees owed to the City of Decatur.

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SHIP covers a variety of eligible home repairs, including, but not limited to: roofs, porches and exterior stairs, foundation and structural improvements, accessibility improvements for disabled occupants, and lead remediation.

More eligibility requirements for SHIP, including the designated neighborhood map and a full list of eligible and ineligible repairs, can be found on the city’s website.

Cordaryl Patrick, director of community development for the city of Decatur, said housing conditions in the city have deteriorated over the past decade.

SHIP, he said, will change that.

“This program is designed to help our great citizens of Decatur with much-needed help to improve their living conditions and change the story in the generational culture, to say it’s not okay to live in Decatur with a hole in your roof said Patrick. “It’s not okay to live in a house in Decatur with lead and asbestos. It’s not okay to live in a house in Decatur with boarded up windows. It’s not okay to live in a house in Decatur with accessibility issues and inefficient utilities.”

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Contact Taylor Vidmar at (217) 421-6949. Follow her on Twitter: @taylorvidmar11.

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