$579,600 grant a boon for some homeowners

THIS MAP provided by the EDA shows the target areas (in blue) that include homes that can qualify for a Small Cities Development Grant.

By Per Peterson

Housing rehabilitation help for certain areas of Tracy is right around the corner.

The City of Tracy’s application for a 2019 Minnesota Small Cities Development Grant has been approved for funding in the amount of $579,600.

The official announcement was made at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Tracy EDA Coordinator Jeff Carpenter called the grant approval a “big deal,” because about half of the grants are going to be 100% paid for — there will be no payback required, as long as the homeowner lives in the home for 10 years moving forward.

“This is a very big deal, considering we’ve got some issues in the city with some housing, and this is really going to alleviate some of those issues with, what I would call free to almost free money,” Carpenter said.

Jeff Gladis, housing director for United Community Action Partnership in Marshall, which wrote the grant, said the grant will be split between 20-25 low- to moderate-income households in Tracy. Of the $579,600, $75,600 will be absorbed by administration fees. Gladis said the average amount per home will be in the $20,000-$25,000 range. Depending on how much is used per dwelling, more homes might be included in the program.

The grant money, which is expected to be made available in early 2020 (February or March), is for home rehabilitation, but there are limits to what the funds can be used for. Gladis said some things that aren’t covered are garages, cabinets, flooring and landscaping. Some things that are covered include plumbing and electrical, ramps for wheelchair accessibility, siding, furnace systems, energy repairs, gutters, exterior doors and windows.

“We’re going to prioritize,” he said.

The grant money will also be used to bring homes up to code. Tracy Fire Chief Dale Johnson III said any house that qualifies for the grant will also receive smoke detectors hard-wired into them.

“That will be about 25 properties brought up to code as far as fire protection,” he said.

“Fire protection and weatherization, too,” Carpenter added.

Grant applications will begin being accepted later this year. There are two tiers to the grant, said Gladis. Homeowners at 50% or less of the area median income won’t have to come up with any matching funds — 50% of the median income for 1 person is $26,500; for a family of four, it’s $37,850. For a single person at 80% of the area median income, the cut-off is $42,400; for a family of four, it’s $60,550.

The grant will be made available for homes that fall in two separate sections, or target areas, of town. Target Area “A” includes homes from 2nd St. to 10th St., between Craig Ave. and South St. The second group of homes — Target Area “B” — include those between East Morgan and East Hollett streets between Center St. and 3rd St. East.

Those target areas were plotted out after two separate surveys were taken — letters were mailed to homeowners — and officials took into consideration that certain homes had already received previous grant money.

“We know we had some areas that hadn’t been served in quite awhile, and those areas came in with the most interest with the surveys,” Gladis said.

An informational meeting for affected residents will take place later this year, possibly in early September.