Less CHIP funds on way

LISBON – The county’s allocation of federal funding to help people purchase their first home or repair the one they own is being cut.

Martina Grimm of the Community Action Agency, which administers the Community Housing Improvement (CHIP) program on behalf of county commissioners, advised them last week the county can only seek up to $400,000, down from $544,000 for the current two-year funding cycle.

Grimm said state officials decided to reduce the two-year grant allocations so they would be able to fund more applications. She said the reductions saved enough money to fund 12 more CHIP applications statewide.

In recent years, the county has been eligible for a two-year CHIP grant in the amount of $500,000, plus an additional $44,000 to partner on projects with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. Grimm said the Habitat for Humanity component was eliminated and the county’s grant ceiling lowered to $400,000.

The current CHIP allocation is being used to help five would-be home buyers with their down payment; repair five homes; repair three residential septic systems; refurbish three rental properties enrolled in the federal rental subsidy program; and provide financial counseling to prospective home-buyers.

The target area was Leetonia and program participants must not have earned more than $42,000 for a family of four, or $29,000 for a single person.

Because of the cuts, there will be no funding allocated for septic system repairs or rental assistance, and the number of people receiving assistance in purchasing a home will be reduced by one. Meanwhile, the amount being set aside for home repairs is either being maintained or increased slightly.

Grimm said a new component of the next CHIP grant will be to allocate $9,000 to help people who are in danger of losing their home through foreclosure because of a demonstrable hardship. She said eligible participants most be able to demonstrate a financial ability to resume making their mortgage payments.

The CAA’s administrative fee will drop from $61,000 to $46,000.