Fund gives a helping hand

Program will assist homeowners in making needed repairs

A new source of money is available to help people in Hamilton and Webster counties who sometimes struggle to keep their homes in good shape.

It’s called the Heart of Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund. It recently received $217,108 in state money to provide housing assistance to people whose income meets the government standards for low to moderate incomes.

This program is not about starting some kind of big city type housing project. It is about giving a helping hand to homeowners who can’t afford needed, and yes, pricey, repairs to their houses.

The program can help an elderly couple that always struggles to make ends meet and needs to put a new roof on the house. And it can help a family whose main breadwinner is sick or hurt and suddenly needs to get a new water heater because the old one sprang a leak.

The program is for any resident in the two counties who owns a single family home and is making up to 80 percent of the area median income. However, priority will be given to households with income at or below 30 percent of area median income, those with disabilities and those who are 62 or older. Priority will also be given to projects that are considered to be emergencies.

Homeowners can get a maximum of $10,000 from the program. But that money isn’t exactly a handout. It will come in the form of a five-year, interest free forgivable loan. The people who stay for at least five years in the home where the money was invested will have their loan forgiven.

Initiatives like this that keep people in their own homes and keep those homes in good shape are ideal. We believe this is the kind of housing program that deserves broad support.

We salute three officials who worked to bring this program to Hamilton and Webster counties. They are Vickie Reeck, the community and economic development director in Fort Dodge; Paige Wheeler, the neighborhood wellness coordinator in Fort Dodge; and Lindsay Henderson, the community vitality director in Webster City.