The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 5, 2012

HOME program offers options to families

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
news@joplinglobe.com

JOPLIN, Mo. — After last year’s tornado, Aubrey Holmes worried whether he would ever be able to repair his damaged home. The storm ripped up a large section of shingles on his roof, which led to leaks in the bedroom below.

Today, Holmes is proud to show the home off to neighbors who stop to compliment it.

“It has an all new roof, new siding, new windows,” he said Thursday afternoon from his new front porch at 403 W. 15th St. in Joplin.

He, his wife, Kristine, and his stepson, Brandon, have lived there since 2004. He said they would not have been able to make the repairs and upgrades without the help of a program offered by the Economic Security Corporation of the Southwest Area.



CONSORTIUM

It is one of several programs that fall under the umbrella of the Joplin HOME Consortium, which was touted by Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr at a news conference Thursday morning at City Hall.

“We might have been able to do the roof and maybe the siding with just our insurance,” Holmes said. “We definitely couldn’t have done it on just my salary. But with this grant, we were able to take our home to the next level.”

Holmes, who has worked his way up from “chop gun runner” to team leader at Able Manufacturing & Assembly during his 4 1/2 years of employment there, said he makes about $22,000 a year.

“My income level is just on the edge,” he said. “We live week to week.”

He and his family have turned to the ESC before — “when times were rough,” he said — for energy assistance and help with weatherization. When he learned that the ESC would help people with storm-damaged homes, “it was a complete turnaround for us,” he said.

The family applied in October and was approved in April. Work finished up at the house a few weeks ago.

The home is one of about 50 that have been repaired and rehabilitated by the ESC as part of the Joplin HOME Consortium, according to Curtis Scott, home repair director with the ESC.

The consortium also includes the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, based in Carl Junction. The city of Joplin is a partner in the effort.

The ESC’s component of the program provides up to $25,000 in materials, labor and other costs for home rehabilitation projects for applicants who meet eligibility criteria. Homeowners must live within the city limits of Joplin and must have owned the home for three years.

Household income guidelines stipulate an annual maximum of $27,000 for one person, $30,850 for two people, $34,700 for three people, $38,550 for four people, $41,650 for five people, and $44,750 for six people.

Priority will be given to homes damaged in the May 2011 tornado, and to those in the Neighborhood Improvement District 3 target area, from West A Street to West C Street between North Gray and North Joplin avenues.

The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, a regional planning commission and community development corporation serving Barton, Jasper, McDonald and Newton counties, is acting as the Community Housing Development Organization for the Joplin HOME Consortium. It has been awarded $285,000 in funding from the city of Joplin’s 2007 and 2008 action plan.

The coordinating council manages two components of the HOME program. In one, called the Acquisition and Rehab Program, the council acts as the owner and developer of properties. It purchases substandard properties, repairs them and offers them for sale to eligible families.

There are varying levels of eligibility for the homebuyer assistance program, said Brian Ross, community development specialist.

The sale of the homes will include assistance to each family, such as a second position zero percent interest loan of up to 20 percent of the sale price.

“We just finished up a home at 101 N. Jackson, completed one at 15 Tanglewood in Carl Junction, and are working on one at 827 W. Austin in Webb City,” Ross said. “We also have three others under construction.”

The second program managed by the coordinating council, called the Joplin NSP Homebuyer Project, is funded through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Neighborhood Stabilization Project.

Six homes are for sale through the program, which requires that homeowners have up to 120 percent of the median household income. For a family of four, that is $57,500.



PROGRESS

Of the estimated 7,500 Joplin homes damaged or destroyed by the tornado, 71 percent have been rebuilt, repaired or are under permit, city officials say.

During Thursday’s news conference, Rohr underscored the importance of the work the Joplin HOME Consortium has done in getting homeowners help in the wake of the tornado. The program, he said, “will go a long way in accelerating these numbers and improving rebuilding efforts in the city of Joplin.”

Rohr said that while city leaders “never sat down and made a projection” of where they wanted to be a year or more after the tornado in terms of home repair or rebuilding, they are “overall very pleased.”

“I think the best is yet to come,” he said. “We’re proud of our numbers and happy with where we’re at.”



Concentrated effort

THE ECONOMIC SECURITY CORP. has provided funding for home repair and rehabilitation for about 10 years, but that funding had been “more spread out” among four counties, according to Curtis Scott, home repair director. After the tornado, the ESC concentrated its efforts on Joplin and Duquesne.