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DEED awards are in: Money to aid in housing rehabilitation

WORTHINGTON -- Four area communities will get hundreds of thousands of dollars to use toward housing rehabilitation after being awarded grants from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). In all, 32 Minnesota commu...

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WORTHINGTON - Four area communities will get hundreds of thousands of dollars to use toward housing rehabilitation after being awarded grants from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). In all, 32 Minnesota communities will share in $17.87 million in grants.
DEED awarded the funding under its Small Cities Development Program, which provides financial support for housing, public infrastructure and commercial rehabilitation projects in cities and counties statewide.
Fulda City Clerk Julie Burchill said that city is “super excited” to get the grant and be able to help Fulda residents make improvements to their homes.
“It’s good for our local contractors, our local businesses - we have a lumberyard here,” Burchill said. The $425,500 grant awarded to the community will focus on owner-occupied housing rehabilitation in a roughly 20-block area north of Front Street.
“We did pre-apps to find out what kind of interest there was in Fulda for the rehab program,” Burchill said, adding that dollars will be awarded to income-eligible homeowners to complete projects such as installation of new windows, siding or roofing, completing handicap-accessible projects or for plumbing or electrical upgrades.
Homeowners are asked to pay 30 percent of the rehabilitation project costs, with 70 percent covered by the grant. Participants will have a lien on their home for 10 years, which is forgiven if they remain in the home. If they move before the 10-year period ends, they will have to pay back a prorated portion of the grant.
“It’s more for health and safety,” Burchill said of the qualifying rehab projects. Home additions are not eligible for the program.
The city of Lakefield will receive more than $846,500 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation, mixed-use rental housing rehabilitation and commercial rehabilitation. Lakefield City Clerk Kelly Rasche said the funds will help local residents living in an area that stretches from the west side of town to the east side.
“We picked an area where we would get the most bang for our buck,” Rasche said, adding that the target area was based on surveys sent out with utility billings. The surveys returned were used to pinpoint the rehab area, which includes the Main Street business district.
“Workforce housing has been talked about in our area for quite a while,” Rasche said. “Our main Street apartments definitely needed help - need some refurbishing. Building new apartment living for our community, we have found to be extremely expensive. 

Using this program to bring back life into what we have just seemed like the best plan to put housing back into our housing market.”
This is the fourth or fifth time Lakefield has been awarded funds to help residents with housing rehabilitation projects.
“It enables our residents to keep their properties repaired and holds their resale value, which allows us to have a really good tax base,” Rasche said. “It’s just really good for our community.”
The city of Adrian was awarded $418,400 to assist low- to moderate-income homeowners with owner-occupied housing rehabilitation across the entire community, said Adrian City Administrator Bruce Heitkamp. It is the second time in four years the city has received DEED funds for housing rehab. In 2012, Adrian and Rushmore were in a cooperative program that was funded.
This time, the Adrian Public Utilities Commission is contributing up to $10,000 for energy efficiency upgrades in homes as part of the rehab project. Those dollars will go toward the 30 percent homeowner match to participate.
Heitkamp said the city will host public meetings once it has more information about the grant and the application process. Adrian is working with the Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership, which will administer the loan program.
The city of Windom received $600,000 to be used for multi-family rental housing rehabilitation. Windom City Administrator Steve Nasby said the funds will be used for Riverview Apartments, an approximately 60-unit complex comprised of one- and two-bedroom units.
“This is part of the funding on a larger project to do extensive rehab of that building,” Nasby said, adding that work is anticipated to begin this summer.
“The Small Cities Development Program is helping to build healthy and thriving communities throughout Minnesota,” said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy.
To be eligible for Small Cities funding, a project must meet one of three objectives: benefit people of low and moderate incomes, eliminate slum and blighted conditions or eliminate an urgent threat to public health or safety.
Cities and townships with populations under 50,000 and counties with populations under 200,000 are eligible for grants under the program. Projects must be completed within 30 months, depending on size and scope.

Related Topics: HOUSING
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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