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Worthington awarded small cities grant

WORTHINGTON -- The city of Worthington has received nearly $600,000 through the Small Cities Development program for homeowner and rental property projects.

The total grant is $596,477, which is close to the maximum award from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). In all, 32 projects were awarded across the state -- including Jackson, which was awarded $586,500 --l totaling nearly $18 million.

"The announcement is the beginning of the process," Director of Community and Economic Development Brad Chapulis said. "Funds cannot be disbursed until September."

Worthington's funds are enough to fund 22 homeowner properties and six rental units.

"The thing to note is the maximum we could have applied for was the $600,000, so we pretty much maxed out the opportunity we were able to apply for," Chapulis said. "The number that is provided is based on what we believe is the average cost. I haven't seen the award list, but I would have to assume we are pretty close to the highest for residential."

The projects eligible in Worthington are those within the specified region. That area's borders are Okabena Street on the south, Oxford Street on the north, Humiston Street on the west and the railroad tracks on the east. There is an income qualifications, which is 80 percent of the median of the county by family size. For example, the income limit for a family of four is $49,350.

Projects funded include those for necessary repair based on health, safety or energy efficiency. Roof repair, window replacement or insulation are among the work that qualify.

There will be a public meeting Aug. 20 for those who are interested and qualify. The rental property owners will meet at 6 p.m. and homeowners at 7 p.m. The location is yet to be determined.

"That will be the opportunity for the homeowners within that territory to understand the process and also receive the full applications for assistance," Chapulis said. "At that point in time, we'll begin accepting applications for assistance. From now until then, we will not be accepting applications."

Even if a property owner didn't do the pre-application, there is still time to get funding. Interested parties just have to show up to the Aug. 20 meeting.

"There are a lot of things that change within almost a year, so we don't want to exclude anyone who didn't maybe live in the target area when we did pre-applications, or who didn't qualify then or who do now," said Jennifer Prins, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership director of community development. "Or, they may not want to participate even though they did submit a pre-application. We collect those pre-applications to prove there really is interest and need, but that doesn't automatically put those people on a list to have those projects done."

With 28 projects able to be funded, some who apply may not be awarded funds.

"We know the target area is much larger than 28 projects," Chapulis said. "I would not discourage anyone from applying if they are eligible because our intent is to not leave that target area until there is no more demand or need. While we were awarded essentially 28 projects this time around, there are other funding rounds we can go after.

"We will continue to put additional funding requests in until there is no need in this target area," he continued. "If that becomes the case, we'll try to move to another target area."

Through the program, up to 70 percent of a project's cost can be covered. The other 30 percent is the responsibility of the owner.

"We do know that sometimes 30 percent is still a lot," Prins said. "For households that qualify at even lower incomes, we do try to secure other sources to help them out."

Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen can be reached at 376-7323.