Live Oak reels in $700,000 housing grant
For more information on the state housing program or to land on the waiting list, call Live Oak City Hall at 695-2112.
Live Oak received a $700,000 state grant, and on Wednesday the City Council voted to use the money to help homeowners fix their houses.
Council members at their Wednesday night meeting voted to accept the money from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Under the department's program, officials will lend the money to homeowners who need to repair their houses and to would-be homebuyers who need a financial boost to pay for their first house.
Officials plan to start doling out cash by the end of spring or early summer and finish by the end of 2014, said city finance director Satwant Takhar.
Edith Williams, 89, and her son, Pete, 50, both of Live Oak, received a $70,000 loan from an earlier wave of funding from the same program. The money paid to replace the rotted out braces supporting her home and to build a new concrete foundation for part of the house. It also paid to make the kitchen level, install new windows and put in new carpet.
"They fixed up my house real good," Williams said.
Without government money, the Williams family couldn't have repaired the ailing house, said Edith's 50-year-old son, Pete.
"There was no way we could've afforded to fix the house up," he said. "We're both on a set income and at the time we were barely making it through bills and stuff."
The Williams are not alone, Takhar said, adding that about a dozen residents are on waiting lists to get money to fix up their houses. Another dozen have signed up to get help to finance their first home.
"There's still quite a few families out there who still have a need," he said.
Under the program, more than one-third of the money - $260,000 - will go to residents who already own their homes but need to make repairs or renovations. Many of them are like Edith Williams, elderly and on a fixed income.
The city will also lend $320,000 to would-be homebuyers so they can finance the purchase their first home. Those homebuyers must qualify for a conventional mortgage, but if that falls short of a house's purchase price, the city steps in with a backup loan to fill the gap, Takhar said.
The money is destined for low-income families. To qualify, a family of two must make $38,000 or less, a family of four, $47,500.
The city is taking $17,500 to administer the program and reserving $104,000 to advertise the program, process loan documents, test paint for lead and asbestos and hire contractors to assess how much repairs might cost.
City officials applied for the grant, part of the state's Home Investment Partnership Program, in 2009 and found out they won the grant in December.
Live Oak has participated in different waves of the program for more than 20 years, Takhar said. Over that span, the city has lent money to about 125 residents, with the amounts averaging between $45,000 and $50,000.