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Help available for NW Iowa homeowners

SPENCER, Iowa -- Low-income homeowners in O'Brien, Osceola and Lyon counties may now apply for funding to repair their homes.

The State Housing Trust Fund has released nearly $268,000 to the Northwest Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund Inc. for fiscal year 2011.

Those funds, along with about $50,500 in matching funds from participating counties, will allow the NWIRHTF to help low- to moderate-income homeowners make necessary repairs to their homes. Financial assistance is in the form of grants and low-interest loans.

"It's not meant for people to do remodeling projects," explained Sherry Zinn of the Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission. "It's meant for people that need home repairs in order to improve their home or bring their home up to minimum housing standards.

Funding can be used for insulation; basic structural repairs of roofs, windows and siding; building systems like electrical upgrades, furnace replacements or plumbing repairs; emergency repairs such as septic tank improvements, hot water heat system replacement, lead-based paint reduction; and handicap accessibility items like exterior ramps or bathroom facilities.

Assistance is limited to households at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI); at least 30 percent of the funding will be set aside for extremely low-income households.

The annual income limit in O'Brien and Osceola County is $63,415 for a family of four, or $23,780 if 30 percent of the AMI is used. In Lyon County, 80 percent of the AMI is $63,102 for a family of four; 30 percent is $23,660.

Households at less than 30 percent of income limits will be eligible for a forgivable grant or loan up to $5,000. Households at 31 to 80 percent of the income limit will be eligible for a forgivable grant or loan up to $5,000 and a low-interest loan up to $10,000.

Applicants must also own and occupy the property in question throughout the entire term of the five-year promissory note and must be current with their mortgage, tax and utility payments.

Applications for 2011 may be picked up at homeowners' local city hall or county courthouse, or by contacting the Northwest Iowa Planning and Development Commission in Spencer.

In its inaugural disbursement of funding, Zinn said the newly formed NWIRHTF has awarded $210,500 to 27 households since June.

For more information, call Zinn, (712) 262-7225, ext. 139, or visit the website;