Council supports home improvement

Bowling Green residents who are interested in fixing up their older homes should be eligible to continue applying for state funds for house repairs and improvements.

At their meeting last night, the city council showed their continued support of a community housing financing project by passing a resolution anticipating the upcoming 2007 to 2011 funding period.

The project, called the Community Housing Improvement Strategy, is a state program that provides money through a local home surveying program called the Community Development Block Grant.

Similar to a loan program, the CHIS allows residents who purchase older homes in the city to apply for state funding for repairs and rehabilitation for their homes. In addition, first time homeowners can apply for funds to cover their initial downpayment.

“The city can provide funds to private homeowner rehabilitation,” said Mike Frost, Ward 4 representative. “If you meet the criteria, you might get some money for improvements.”

The city must reapply for the funding program every benchmark period – or five years, according to John Zanfardino, Ward 2 representative. The previous funding period ended in 2005.

“That is the kind of funding that Bowling Green or other locations can bring in for housing,” Zanfardino said. “And with that money they can make requests for proposals.”

This funding is especially helpful for smaller towns in the area, according to Zanfardino, who chairs the Community Improvement Committee. That committee brought the resolution before Council.

“It’s the kind of funds that are particularly urgent to towns like portage that don’t have the budget like Bowling Green,” he said.

According to Zanfardino, through the CDBG, the city also does an external survey of homes, looking for some that may be substandard. This may include external observations like paint chipping or gutters in need of repair. This information from CDBG is then used as a resource for developing the CHIS survey.

“Without doing the survey, we couldn’t get the CDBG funding,” Zanfardino said.

Frost sees the funding project as a benefit to both residents and the city.

“I know that people take advantage of it,” he said. “I think it’s a good way for people to make upgrades to their home.”

At the meeting last night, Council also made an amendment to the ordinance regarding duties of the city planning director.

Also approved was an ordinance that enters the city utilities director into an agreement with JFD Services, LLC and Strawberry Fields Investments, LLC for electric and sewer.