Austin homeowners can apply for home-improvement grants

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West Side homeowners who live within the Austin Commercial Tax Increment Financing District may be eligible to receive a Neighborhood Improvement Program grant to fix their homes.

The Austin Commercial TIF-NIP, in partnership with the Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, will allocate $250,000 from the TIF district to qualifying homeowners for exterior-home repairs, such as a new porch, roof, windows or doors.

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) attended last Thursday night’s neighborhood meeting, held at Ronald E McNair Elementary School, to discuss the program.

Mitts said TIF-NIP is a great opportunity for homeowners to receive assistance to fix their homes.

“All of us have some concerns when it comes to housing right about now,” she said.

The Austin Commercial TIF District, created in 2007, includes parts of the 28th, 29th and 37th Wards. The district encompasses portions of Central, Cicero, North and Division avenues.

Chicago’s TIF districts collect property-tax dollars that go back into the community through various forms, such as economic development and the Neighborhood Improvement Program – designed specifically for homeowner occupants.

Single family homeowners within the Austin Commercial TIF District can receive a grant up to $12,500, $17,500 for a 2-flat, $20,000 for a 3-flat and $22,500 for a 4-flat. Thirty percent of the grant money is allowed to be used for interior home improvements – 70 percent or more for the exterior.

The grant can be used for any outside fixes besides foundation work, said Darris Shaw, NHS director of construction services. He added the grant is only for repairs, so no new construction can occur.

“We can’t build a new addition to your home,” he said. “We can’t build a garage that doesn’t exist, but we can repair your garage.”

To be considered for the grant, homeowners must fill out a TIF-NIP application; be the owner and occupier of the residential, not commercial building; meet the program’s household income requirements; have valid property insurance; not owe any money to the city, such as outstanding water bills or parking tickets; and not have any interior safety hazards in their home.

Home owners who received a TIF-NIP grant in the past are not eligible for the program.

Destiny Edmonds, a NHS loan specialist, said homeowners interested in the program who are unsure if they live in the Austin Commercial TIF District should still submit an application.

“Addresses will be checked at a later date, and you will be verified if you are in the district or not in the district,” she said.

Shaw encouraged Austin homeowners at the meeting to be alert of possible fraudulent schemes related to the Neighborhood Improvement Program.

“Contractors may hear about this program and come knocking on your door or leaving information at your home,” he said.

“There are no contractors — not any — that represent the city, nor do they represent Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago.”

He said homeowners do not need to be in contact with any contractors throughout the application process of the grant. If a homeowner receives the grant, at that time he or she is responsible to reach out to at least three contractors for a bid.

TIF-NIP applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. Dec. 9 and can be picked up at a Neighborhood Housing Services office. The closest to Austin is at 3601 W. Chicago Ave.; the phone number is (773) 533-5570. Homeowners can also visit one of the three Austin Ward offices for an application.

Information on where to mail or fax the document can be found on the application. There is no fee to apply.

Neighborhood Housing Services will hold a lottery if more people apply than available funds.

For more information on the grant program or to request an application, call Neighborhood Housing Services at (800) 456-0982.

One thought on “Austin homeowners can apply for home-improvement grants

  1. Nice article, good work. I you’d like to follow the progress of the program feel free to reach out at any time. I think it would also be a good copy, to interview some of the eventual recipients. Let me know what you think.

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