Decatur launches home repair assistance program

Decatur launches home repair assistance program

DECATUR — Starting Monday, some Decatur homeowners will have a chance to apply for grants to fund their home repair projects. 

The city of Decatur on Thursday officially launched its new owner-occupied Small Home Improvement Program (SHIP), a grant program aimed at low- to moderate-income homeowners in Decatur’s urban core. 

City officials hope the project will lead to improvements in some of Decatur’s declining housing units. 

“Neighborhood revitalization has been a huge goal of the Decatur City Council for many, many years, but that’s about more than just tearing down abandoned houses and old buildings,” said Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe. “It’s about trying to build up the community.”

The city’s goal, Moore Wolfe said, is not to demolish everything but to “regrow these neighborhoods.”

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Moore Wolfe and other city officials on Thursday presented a $450,000 check to the Northeast Community Fund, which will provide the grants to Decatur residents.  

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The council approved the funding earlier this month. The program is just one of many neighborhood revitalization efforts funded by the city’s federal American Rescue Plan monies.

Northeast will begin to accept SHIP applications on Monday. Representatives from the organization said program will help improve the living conditions of many deserving community members. 

“Given our organization’s mission, it was hard for us to hear that we had people in our community who wanted to stay in their home but live paycheck to paycheck, or better yet, on a fixed income, and could not afford to make the necessary or needed repairs to their homes,” said Angel Lawrence, Northeast’s executive director.

“Everybody has a right to food and to shelter,” said  Taylor Hardy, the agency’s micro finance director.

Homeowners must meet multiple requirements to be eligible for SHIP, including owning a home in the designated neighborhood and being free of delinquent taxes or outstanding charges owed to the city of Decatur.  

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SHIP will cover a variety of eligible home repairs including, but not limited to: roofs, porches and exterior steps, foundation and structural improvements, accessibility improvements for occupants with disabilities and lead remediation. 

More SHIP eligibility requirements, including the designated neighborhood map and a full list of eligible and ineligible repairs, can be found on the city’s website.

Cordaryl Patrick, community development director for the city of Decatur, said the city has seen a decline in housing conditions over the past decade.  

SHIP, he said, will help change that. 

“This program is designed to assist our great citizens of Decatur with much needed assistance to improve their living conditions and change the narrative in generational culture, to say it is not okay to live in Decatur with a hole in your roof,” Patrick said. “It is not OK to live in a home in Decatur with lead and asbestos. It is not Ok to live in a home in Decatur with boarded up windows. It is not OK to live in a home in Decatur that has accessibility challenges and inefficient utilities.” 

Contact Taylor Vidmar at (217) 421-6949. Follow her on Twitter: @taylorvidmar11.