The City of Benton Harbor asks residents how to spend grant money

NOW: The City of Benton Harbor asks residents how to spend grant money

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. --- The City of Benton Harbor has been working towards creating affordable housing for residents over the past year, but the pandemic put a pause on some of those plans. Now the city wants the community’s input on how to spend additional money they got through the CARES Act.

The city is getting a second allocation of funding as part of the Community Development Block Grant. This funding now brings the total amount to a little over $300,000.

“It’s heartbreaking to me. When I send my residents down to fill out an application and yet they’re not being serviced," said Mary Alice Adams, Commissioner for the City of Benton Harbor.

The City has been using funds from the Community Development Block Grant for the Home Rehabilitation Loan Program. The program provides loan funds to homeowners within the city limits to fix small repairs.

It comes after commissioners learned many residents were living with tarps, unable to cover the costs to fix their homes.

“The smaller life and safety type repairs go up to 5 or $6,000 and if the citizen continues to live in the home for another 5 years the loan is forgiven," said Alex Little, Director of Community and Economic Development for the City.

The program was developed with a five year plan in mind and was initially proposed to residents through a survey.

Little says 38 citizens responded which helped them to provide larger loan amounts -- up to 30 thousand dollars--- for more extensive repairs if citizens continue living in their home for ten years.

“In each instance a lean is taken out and placed on that home and recorded with a recorder of leans until such time as that whole process is completed," said Little.

Latonya Booker, a Benton Harbor native, says she’s excited to see more rehabilitation happen in her hometown.

“I’m excited to move forward. Kind of nervous. Scared about it, but I’m also excited," said Booker.

Community members shared they want the city to create a strong marketing plan for applications so everyone who needs the help can receive it.

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