$1.3 million available to renovate Lake County homes and businessesTwo Harbors and Silver Bay residents can expect to see a lot of construction this year and next.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Two Harbors and Silver Bay residents can expect to see a lot of construction this year and next.
The communities were awarded $1.3 million from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to help renovate homes and businesses—the largest such award given in the state.
“This is huge for the county,” said Bob Entzion, a member of the Lake County Housing and Redevelopment Authority. “It’s really taken a commitment to get this done.” The HRA’s mission is to provide affordable housing to all county residents, regardless of income. The recent grants will be used to further that goal.
The DEED monies are intended for small cities and when the HRA and Silver Bay applied, with the help of the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, they chose concentrated areas of each community into which the dollars would be funnelled (the target areas are highlighted in the maps).
“It enhances the quality of life and property value,” said Tom Lovdahl, chair of the HRA board.
There are two programs for which the money will be used: one will focus on homes and the other on businesses. The money will be dispersed in the form of a deferred loan. That means that if the owner keeps the house or business for 10 years, he or she won’t be required to pay back the funds.
“There aren’t many programs out there that exist like this,” said Scott Zahorik, director of housing services at AEOA.
Homeowners can get about $24,000 to complete any necessary work on their homes — exterior painting or roof repairs to vital indoor renovations. Only households at or below 80 percent of the area median income – about $48,000 for a family of four – are eligible.
For businesses, there are no income limitations but owners must invest a 30 percent match to receive up to $38,000.
Lovdahl said that the investments keep property values up and ensure that Two Harbors and Silver Bay remain desirable places to live.
“It helps keep families in a community,” he said. In addition, the construction, the bulk of which will take place this fall and next summer, will employ mostly local contractors.
“It’s a multiplying factor on what the money means,” Entzion said.
After a homeowner or business applies for the funds, AEOA and DEED inspect the property to make sure the work is necessary. They double-check the owner’s financial information and get to work hiring local contractors to complete the jobs. The grant is intended to be dispersed over 2.5 years, but Zahorik said he anticipates the work being done sooner. Then, he said, they’ll go to work finding more dollars to bring to the community, improving the housing options for all.
“We’re looking to help out some folks,” Zahorik said.
If you live in a target area and are interested in the program, call Dorene Dobberstein of AEOA at (800) 662-5711 ext. 7311.