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Carthage has housing upgrade aid

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CARTHAGE — The Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce is seeking applicants for a $400,000 housing rehabilitation grant program that it administers for the villages of Carthage and West Carthage.

According to Lori A. Borland, the chamber’s executive director, only about half of the funds have been used. Time is running out since all work must be completed by December 2013.

“It’s free money,” Ms. Borland said. “If it’s not used, we have to return the money. So, in order for the timeframe to be met, we must receive applications soon.”

Housing renovation grants of up to $25,000 are available to income-eligible homeowners. Funding also is available to upgrade rental properties made available to low-income families.

Rehabilitation projects may include, but are not limited to, roofs, windows, siding, floors and foundations, electrical, heating and plumbing, as well as interior renovations to kitchens, baths and other living spaces.

West Carthage homeowner Cheryl K. Graham participated in the program and was very pleased with the results. She had a new roof, a deck for a rear exit, windows and a pad under the stove installed, electrical outlets replaced and a bathroom floor installed.

“Although, I had been on the list for a few years, I felt when I qualified it was just in time,” Ms. Graham said. “The process of paperwork was not hard and the people were pleasant and helpful. The day the carpenters arrived it all became believable. The carpenters were pleasant and a joy to have around. They cleaned up and were very good with communication on when they would be back to do the work. I enjoyed them and the work was timely done.”

She urged people to “take the time to speak with the Chamber of Commerce to see if you qualify for this grant, which is very worthwhile.”

The village of Carthage was awarded a Community Development Block Grant in 2008 that allowed 19 homes to be renovated. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program provides funding to help those with low or moderate incomes with home repairs to eliminate hazardous or unhealthy conditions. The funds also aid homeowners with insulation and weatherization.

The following year, West Carthage joined Carthage in the Twin Villages Housing Rehabilitation Program to aid 16 homeowners.

In 2010, the villages obtained approximately $120,000 through the North Country Home Consortium. Through the consortium, municipalities in St. Lawrence, Jefferson and Lewis counties could unite to seek funding. Five area homes were renovated through the program, having roofs replaced, kitchens and bathrooms updated, electrical and plumbing repaired, windows and doors replaced and siding installed.

Another block grant was obtained in 2011 and money is still available to homeowners.

The Twin Villages, along with the towns of Wilna and Champion, have applied for another round of block grants.

For more information about the housing rehabilitation grants, call the chamber at 493-3590 or stop in the office at 120 S. Mechanic St. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to pick up an application packet.

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