The village of Coal City has received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to assist homeowners in housing rehabilitation.
The village of Coal City has received a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to assist homeowners in housing rehabilitation.

The Village of Coal City is one of 13 Illinois communities to earn grant funds to improve local housing.

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Office of Community Development announced the village will receive $500,000 as part of the 2019 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Housing Rehabilitation.

The grants are designed to assist low-to-moderate income homeowners needing safe and sanitary living conditions.

In Coal City, the $500,000 will assist property owners in a specific area as identified by the village's application for the funds. That area is from Route 113 north, east of Broadway to the Union Pacific tracks, and south to Pine Street.

"This is a federal program that DECO administers for the state of Illinois," said Coal City village administrator Matt Fritz. "It's for remodels of their existing homes for [people] who meet the income eligibility requirements to have up to $50,000 provided for improvements at their homes."

Fritz said the the rehab funding is not related to the 2015 tornado that damaged or destroyed hundreds of structures in Coal City.

"They have to be income qualified," he said. "When we submitted the application, we knew we had reserved so much funding under our program design because we already surveyed the neighborhood, and we found that we had more than what was necessary to meet the minimum qualifications. So, that means we have more households than that $500,000 to spend money on that can actually apply for the money... All of this means that they will fund a housing rehab program in Coal City."

Fritz said now that the village has secured the funds, it's up to homeowners to seek out that money.

"Now begins the process where the homes within the neighborhood must actually apply for those funds," Fritz said. "Up until now, it's been, we believe that there are so many homes that would qualify and can get the funding. We did a certain level of analysis for that. Now, what will happen, is they actually have to apply for those funds."

While the program is referred to as grant funding, Fritz said the process will work as a forgivable loan.

"The other big question about how it works, it's not necessarily a grant. It's a short-term loan forgiveness program," Fritz said. "So, what that means is, as opposed to just granting those funds, [the property owner] will be provided the funds, but they will then have to live in that home for a five year period immediately following the improvements to the home."

The loan is forgiven after those five years. The money comes in the form a forgivable loan to prevent abuse, so homeowners cannot use the funds to flip their homes then sell them for a profit.

The village held a public hearing back in July regarding the application process for the grant funds.

The Coal City housing rehabilitation advisory committee has worked with the North Central Council of Governments and Barnett Construction on the 2019-2022 housing rehabilitation plan.

The village has undergone a two-year effort to stabilize the trend of structural decline in older residential areas. The target area was chosen based on a locally distributed survey. The survey received a 42% response rate. The multi-block target area includes 125 existing structures. Of those homes, 32 residential dwellings were found to be seriously deteriorated, implying the need for major rehabilitation.

The funding is expected to provide rehabilitation projects for an estimated 10 owner-occupied single family homes

The anticipated timeline for projects now that the grant funds have been approved is 24 months from start of rehabilitation process to completion.

State officials said the program is a way to help homeowners who have found themselves in a position where their homes are in a state of disrepair to afford to do the work necessary to keep their houses.

“By rehabilitating residential properties we are not only ensuring our residents can stay in their family home but also stabilizing neighborhoods and spurring economic development," said Governor JB Pritzker.

Funding for the CDBG Housing Rehabilitation program is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). State administered funds are available for communities who do not receive their own CDBG funding from HUD.

Coal City and the other 12 recipients will split $6.3 million of grant funding, estimated to help a total of around 125 homes.

Other CDBG recipients include City of Ava, Village of Carrier Mills, City of Christopher, City of Colchester, City of Effingham, City of Johnston City, City of Marion, City of Mattoon, Village of Neponset, City of Rosiclare, City of Shawneetown, and City of Spring Valley.

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