City program offers help for home repairs

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published April 6, 2016

 he before photo of a home qualifying for needed repairs through the Royal Oak Housing Rehabilitation Program.

he before photo of a home qualifying for needed repairs through the Royal Oak Housing Rehabilitation Program.

Photo provided by the city of Royal Oak

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ROYAL OAK — Debbie Murray is ready to help residents in need of home repairs who are unable to afford the high costs or who can’t find the right person to call for an honest day’s work.

“Most of the residents are very thankful, and they are getting work done that they can’t afford,” she said.

Murray is the program officer for the city’s Housing Rehabilitation Program.

The program helps low- to moderate-income owners of single-family homes make up to $40,000 in needed home repairs through city grants and loans. Homeowners are eligible for up to $10,000 in grant money for exterior repairs and no-interest or low-interest, deferred loans.

“You can really get quite a bit of work done,” Murray said.

Applicants must own the home they are requesting repairs for, and they must meet income guidelines.

Income guidelines for those requesting a zero-interest installment loan or grant range from about $37,450 for a single dweller to $70,400 for a family of eight. Deferred loans have a maximum income requirement ranging from $23,450 to $44,200, depending on household occupancy.

Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids said what she likes most about the program is that the qualifications are based on annual income only and do not take bank savings or retirement funds into account when determining eligibility.

Davids said the program is ideal for senior citizens on a fixed income.

“For example, the program would help cover the cost of ripping out a bathtub and replacing it with a roll-in shower,” she said.

Davids said another aspect of the program she likes is that the city oversees and pays the contractors, so there is no worry of being scammed, having poor work done or paying too much.

City officials said that in the past, residents have used the money for work on siding, roofing, windows, doors, porches, furnaces, air-conditioning and installation.

“We really do anything that is not considered decorative,” Murray said, adding that the program does allow for kitchen and bath remodeling for low-mobility accessibility.

Funding for the Housing Rehabilitation Program comes from Community Development Block Grant funds — a federal Department of Housing and Urban Development program — and payments from prior recipients. Murray said she received $340,000 to fund the program for the fiscal year ending June 30. She said the city has about $120,000 still available. The program will renew July 1.

The program has been in existence for about 30 years.

Anyone interested must fill out an application and then participate in an interview and inspection. Participating homeowners can’t have any outstanding code violations with the city, and they must be willing to have a lead-paint test conducted, if necessary.

“Last year, we had about 30 applicants, and we’re hoping to increase that to about 50 applicants this year,” Davids said. “It’s really a great program, and we’re hoping more people take advantage of it.”

To learn more about the program, visit the city’s website at romi.gov or call Murray at (248) 246-3292. Applications may be picked up on the third floor of City Hall, located at 211 Williams St.

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