Local News

June 6, 2014

$1.2 million in grants to help low-income residents rehab their homes in Whitfield, Murray

Dozens of homes in Whitfield County may soon be getting repairs, thanks to a total of $1.2 million in grants from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs’ Community Home Investment Program (CHIP).

“Our target groups are households that have someone 62 years old or older and make 30 percent or less of the median area income,” said Gaile Jennings, executive director of the Dalton-Whitfield Community Development Corp. (CDC), which will be overseeing household eligibility for the $304,980 portion of the grants awarded to Whitfield County and the other recipients.

“These are the people less likely to have the money to make repairs,” Jennings pointed out. “They would never be to the point where they would have money left over to repair their property.”

She said the median area income figure for Whitfield County was just released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, based on income tax returns, and dropped by $10,000 per year to $40,600. Thirty percent of that figure would be $12,180 for a one-member household, rising to $14,450 for a family of four.

“You don’t know how many people we see who make the smallest amount of Social Security possible — $703 a month,” Jennings said. “These grants will help a lot of people who just can’t afford to do any repairs at their homes after they pay their normal living expenses.”

The city of Dalton also will receive a $304,980 grant for rehab in the Crown Mill district, and the Dalton Housing Authority was approved for $304,980 for owner-occupied homes in the east Dalton area. Murray County — which is part of the Dalton MSA (metropolitan statistical area) — also was approved for its first rehab grant ever, also receiving $304,980. Each entity targeted the same population to be the recipients of these funds described earlier. Jennings has no doubts that the need is great in Whitfield and Murray counties.

“Last year the CDC got a CHIP grant for which recipients had to make 50 percent of the median income and also had to pay a participation fee that ranged from $250 to $700, depending upon the household income,” she said. “When we advertised for applicants, we got 102. Unfortunately, 75 percent of the people who applied made just 30 percent of the median area income so they weren’t eligible for that grant. For Whitfield County’s grant application we used those rejected applications to demonstrate the great need that exists in our area. The good news is there won’t be a participation fee this time due to the income of the recipients.”

Jennings isn’t sure how many people in all will be able to receive help through the grants because the amount awarded to each applicant will vary based on the specific needs of each house. She did say the average cost to do a rehab in Whitfield County is about $22,000, with most of the work needed on roofs and any damage caused by leaking roofs, handicap accessibility, central heat and air, and bathrooms literally rotted by long-term exposure to moisture.

Based on that average rehab cost, the $1.2 million would help about 55 homeowners. Jennings and other local officials will attend a workshop in September to learn about new grant requirements and then will have to write and submit CHIP Policies and Procedures for each grant. She believes they will be ready to take applications from homeowners in the latter part of the year.

“It’s interesting that the Dalton MSA got all four grants that we applied for,” Jennings said. “I believe that part of it is because we’ve become such an at-risk community economically. This grant money will definitely be put to good use in our area.”


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