Media Archive

Milo, Orneville approved for $300,000 housing grant

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 11, March 13, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

MILO – Several homes in Milo and Orneville could be receiving some necessary improvements in the near future since the towns were notified that they will receive a $300,000 housing grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

"The town did a study several years ago on housing," explained Community Development Program Administrator Ron Harriman, who applied for the grant on the towns' behalf. 'That study concluded that there was a very strong need for housing rehab in the two communities."

Harriman said that last year the area was awarded the Community Development Block Grant to help income-eligible families. Although it took some time to get the program up and running, the applications are now available.

"What this program can do is provide assistance for people to make necessary improvements to their homes—to make them safer or more energy effi-cient," he said. "The types of improvements that are typically done through a program like this include roofing and siding, replacement windows and doors, heating systems, septic systems, wells—all of the nuts and bolts-type home improvements."

Harriman said the program does not usually fund "cosmetic improvements" or repairs to non-living areas such as barns or garages. "We're just doing the basics to place the place better for the people that live there," he said.

With the grant, he estimates that nearly 25 families will be helped. To receive funds from this grant, residents must meet income guidelines, however.

"The income limits are pretty generous," he said. "They are brand new guidelines that are just increased. They adjust them every now and then."A one-person household can make up to $22,700. Two-person households can make up to $25,900 and still be eligible for grant funds, and the four-person household income limit is $32,400.

The application process is pretty simple, he said. Community Development also takes care of getting the improvements done, Harriman said. They put the work out to bid, many times to local contractors.

"People that have some ability to do some things—we encourage that, too," he said.

He said that only six CDBGs are awarded statewide, and that applying for one is a very competitive process.

"It's quite a big deal for a town to land one of these," he said. "Milo worked very hard to present a good application."

Town Manager Jane Jones also said she was pleased with the approval of the grant.

"Milo is the lead community, but we have a substantial need within both communities, and the $300,000 will allow us to assist many homeowners in making the repairs and upgrades that are critical to maintain a particular quality of life. We are hoping it (the grant) is the first of several."

She said that a lot of the housing stock in the area is older and that there is a definite need for the funds.

"We, like many communities throughout Maine, have homeowners that are struggling with well problems, and this will allows us to (help them through the

Although there isn't a firm deadline, applications should be submitted by July.

"The applications will be prioritized by a review committee on the basis of need with some considerations for other things," Harriman said. "Anyone that thinks they have needs and would be within the guidelines—I would encourage them to apply, and if we have applications left over at the end of the program then that would provide a pretty good basis to continue the program."

He said that if they could demonstrate need, it was likely that more money would be available. Other towns like Dover-Foxcroft have applied for these
grants on a continual basis, and been able to make substantial improvements to local housing, he said.

"We can't guarantee that everyone that qualifies can get help," he said, "but we're hopeful that we can take care of an awful lot of those needs."

He said that homeowners should have a copy of their deed when they apply. After the application is submitted, the Community Development office does an inspection of the home.

The application form is available at the Milo Town Office or at the Community Development Office. The phone number is 943-2389. Any contractors interested in rendering services for the program are also encouraged to contact the Community Development office.

"If they have trouble getting to the town office to get an application, we'd be happy to mail them one," he said. "Anyone that needs help filling it out, we'll help them, as well, but it (the application process) is pretty quick."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.