Eagle Grove, Clarion receive housing improvement grants

WRIGHT COUNTY — The communities of Eagle Grove and Clarion have been awarded a combined total of $637,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to support community investment projects, a substantial chunk of the $7.5 million awarded by the Iowa Economic Development Authority this week.

Eagle Grove received $213,114 for housing initiatives, which City Administrator Bryce Davis said will be used to renovate six owner-occupied houses northeast of downtown. The funds can be used by homeowners to fix the roof, exterior issues, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, mechanical issues, and work on sidewalks or concrete. All funds must be used toward structural or mechanical issues, Davis said.

Each of the six homeowners will be able to use up to about $25,000 to invest in their home, improving Eagle Grove’s housing stock. A five-year mortgage will be placed on all properties taking advantage of the funds, but will be forgiven as long as the property is not sold within five years.

Clarion received about $210,000 for a similar initiative to improve its housing stock.

“It allows the community to improve,” said Clarion City Administrator Jordan Cook. “Clarion is a very beautiful community, it’s just there are some houses that need to be updated or improved. This gives those citizens that chance to improve and put it back to what they once were.”

“Anytime you’re fortunate to get any kind of grant, it has the opportunity to enhance the community and any potential housing,” said Clarion Mayor Duane Asbe. “Housing is definitely an issue we’re trying to stay on top of.”

Eagle Grove’s other grant, for $214,251, will be put toward rehabilitation of 12 downtown building facades.

Funds were available to 12 recipients, which have already been selected, at at 75/25 match. Recipients of that grant will be responsible for 25% of the construction costs for projects that aim to give Eagle Grove’s downtown a functional and aesthetic face lift.

“When we sign agreements with the IEDA in mid-August, we will re-engage property owners,” for specific materials, improvements to the property and other items that will move toward writing construction documents and bid letting.

Davis said the city would like to see bids in January to allow for spring construction next year.

“Strategic investments in Iowa’s smaller communities via these federal funds ensure all areas of our state are developing and advancing,” said Debi Durham, IEDA and Iowa Finance Authority director, in a press release Tuesday.“As a result of these projects, thousands of Iowans will see rehabilitated housing, new community facilities and exciting enhancements in their downtowns.”

The CDBG program is federally funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. IEDA is responsible for administering the CDBG funds in non-metropolitan areas of Iowa. Applications are typically solicited each spring.