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$100,000 in emergency
home-repair grants still available

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

The Housing Authority of Clayton County is searching for homeowners whose houses are in need of vital repairs. There are nearly $100,000 worth of Housing Urgency Grants (HUG) still available through the authority.

While $100,000 of the authority's $471,000 2008 budget has been allotted to the HUG program, nearly all of the money has gone unused, according to HACC programs coordinator, Rashonda Douglas.

"There are less than 20 people on the waiting list at this time ... and the waiting list is getting lower," said Douglas. "We are just getting into the process of using the funds that were awarded to us this year."

The HUG program utilizes local funds to repair homes suffering blight, in dilapidation, or in need or crucial, structural repairs. Grant recipients must live in the county, have an income that doesn't exceed 50 percent of the local, median income, possess homeowners' insurance, and have a repair that warrants an immediate safety concern.

"A gas leak ... that's considered an emergency," said Douglas. "Replacing a window is not considered an emergency."

The grants typically cap at $7,000, however, at the current rate of applicants, HACC will complete it's current HUG program projects in just four months. Douglas said more applicants are needed to utilize the funds sufficiently, and more education is needed to get the word out.

"I'm thinking that they don't know [about HACC or the HUG program]," said Douglas. "A lot of people get us mixed up with the Jonesboro Housing Authority, which administers the Section 8 program. A lot of people aren't familiar with what we do here.

"What I have seen over the last eight years in Clayton County is that there are a lot of older homes [in need of repair]," Douglas added. "This is a good program for people who are less fortunate, due to income and credit scores and things like that."

HACC public information officer, Chris Wood, said since the HUG program utilizes local funding, the turn-around is "streamlined" and much faster than federally-administered grants.

"Lots of times, deferred maintenance can get expensive if neglected for years," said Wood. "They're trying to alleviate blighted housing that is in need of emergency repairs and might endanger the tenants.

"The mission of the Housing Authority of Clayton County is to provide safe and affordable housing for low- to-median-income residents, and this program does just that," Wood added.

HUG program grants are available all year round to Clayton County residents who qualify. For more information, call (404) 362-1200, or visit www.haccga.com.