Homeowners, businesses should take advantage of SCDP

Homeowners and businesses in Pierz, Little Falls and Royalton  have a unique opportunity, for a second time, to receive funding through  the Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grant — to the tune of $491,700.

The cities first received a $751,100 SCDP grant in spring 2010. Central Minnesota Housing Partnership (CMHP) Program Manager Jason Krebsbach said it was expected the program would be a success, but that no one expected the short period of time it would take for the success to become a reality.

In just more than 15 months, the program had already exceeded the goals established for the entire 30-month grant period and people were left on waiting lists.

This grant, through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), offers homeowners and businesses federal community development block grant funds to rehabilitate their buildings.

Those homeowners who qualify to receive a 0 percent interest deferred loan or businesses who qualify for a low interest loan (1 percent), can use the funds to cover costs for such projects as new roofing, siding, windows, doors, insulation and more to make their buildings more attractive and energy efficient.

To qualify for a 0 interest, seven-year deferred loan, homeowners must be located in a targeted area of one of the three cities and must meet income guidelines. If the homeowners awarded a portion of the funding stay in their homes for seven years, they don’t pay a dime; the loan is forgiven.

For business owners who qualify, a 10-year, 0 interest deferrable loan is available along with a low-interest (1 percent) loan that is paid back in installments over a 15-year period. That money paid back over the 15-year period goes back to the city the business is located in. It is put into a fund that, once it grows, can be loaned to other businesses in the city.

CMHP administers the program, executes the contract between the cities, writes the grant application and prepares the applications for funding to DEED.

This newest funding will be available for 12 homeowners and six businesses. Krebsbach said these loans are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, to properties in targeted areas of each city.

During the last round of funding, homeowners who received the grants were equally divided between the three cities. But, said Krebsbach, more Pierz business owners took advantage of the low interest loans, probably because of the timing, as the Highway 25 project down Pierz’ Main Street was taking place.

The program is a unique opportunity for homeowners and business owners to fix up their property with very affordable financing they wouldn’t get any other place.

Krebsbach said the program works through federal objectives that encompass the goal to improve small cities as a whole, and to assist low and moderate income households with needed home repairs they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

Rehabilitation of homes and businesses makes a difference in how a city looks, said Krebsbach, and makes it more attractive to incoming families and businesses.

As homes and businesses are revitalized and rehabilitated, Krebsbach said they’ve noticed that other property owners in those areas take notice and begin to make improvements on their own properties, even without the program.

Take advantage of the opportunity. Call Krebsbach at (320) 259-0393 for information. This may be the last time these grants are made available locally.