City, Hope Home Repair to part ways – The Kansan

Chad Frey Newton Kansan

For decades Hope Home Repair assisted low income home owners with repairs to their homes.

Since 2011 Hope Home Repair has worked in conjunction with the City of Newton, utilizing Community Development Block Grant funding to assist with home repairs — issuing low or no interest loans to some homeowners to assist with repairs like new windows, heating and air systems, water heaters and roofs for homeowners with an income of $14,000 a year.

Those days are, apparently, over. Jan. 11 the city commission will likely terminate the agreement — at the request of Hope Home Repair.

The organization’s board of directors notified city staff via letter at the end of December that the organization is “unable to accept new applications” and requesting the closure of a memorandum of understanding between the city and Hope Home Repair.

“For many years, HOPE’s founder, a licensed general contractor, was able to do much of the work himself. Health challenges have gradually changed that,” the board wrote in a letter to the city commission and city staff.

Calling the phone number listed for Hope Home Repair listed on the organization’s letterhead and online results in a “phone number not valid” message.

During the agreement city staff assisted with approving applications for funding. Projects have included replacing siding, guttering, broken windows, the roof, electrical or plumbing upgrades, and repainting house exteriors.

“[We] would like to take this opportunity to express our most sincere gratitude to the staff and board members of HHR for their dedicated service to those most in need in the Newton community,” wrote Kelly McElroy, city manager, in a memo to the city commission. “Their work has improved countless lives and properties in our community and we are grateful for their service.”

At the income level served, home repairs can be difficult if not impossible to pay for. The CDBG backed loans were/ are repaid to the revolving account with the city as properties change hands.

“Yet, statistics demonstrate that cost for a retirement community are far higher than remaining in one’s own home, and furthermore, it’s more satisfying and mentally healthy,” wrote the board of Hope Home Repair in its letter to city staff.

City staff and the Commission have advised and recommended that any remaining CDBG funds obligated to the Hope Home Repair program can be moved to new city weatherization program, “that has a similar mission and vision.” City staff estimated there are about $49,000 available in CBDG funds that could be rolled into the new program.

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