Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 5, 2005

LP housing grant and deadline expanded

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

The application process and area for Lester Prairie’s small cities development grant has expanded to the end of the year, and will now include the entire city.

Lester Prairie received a $932,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to rehabilitate homes and businesses in the downtown area in April 2003.

The grant allowed for 20 homes, owned and occupied by low-and moderate-income families, six affordable rental units, and 10 commercial buildings located downtown to be eligible for grant funding for renovation projects. The funds from the grant cannot be used on new buildings, but must be used on buildings that already exist.

Originally, the single-family housing rehabilitation needed to occur in a targeted area of the community. Not enough applications have been received from the target area to accomplish 20 rehabilitations, according to Heidi Peper of SEH. Thus, DEED approved the expansion of the target area to the entire city.

Eligible participants in the housing rehabilitation program will have access to grants and low-interest loans to fix up their homes. There are income eligibility requirements, which are based on figures from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Several homes in Lester Prairie have received work, but Peper said that more can receive the funding.

On the business side, at Sarah Heuer’s dental office building on Juniper Street, tuckpointing and brick work is taking place, as well as the grinding out of mortar between the bricks. New mortar will be filled in and sealed so it holds up against weather elements.

Plans for Heuer’s building also call for new awnings, doors, and windows. Heuer will invest more than $44,000 of her own money, as well, to complete the project, Peper noted. Heuer also received funding to rehabilitate her second floor rental unit, and plans to replace windows, the furnace, and plumbing fixtures.

“They’re starting ours next week,” said Eric Angvall of Angvall Hardware and Mercantile. He said the project at his business is set to include a considerable amount of brick work and tuckpointing, as well as electrical upgrades, and having a more efficient furnace installed.

“It’s a start,” he said.

Central Cafe was the first business to take part in the grant program, receiving a $38,000 grant for rehabilitation efforts that included new windows, doors, roof repair, and interior remodeling, Peper said.

Even with the application deadline being extended, Angvall noted “we don’t have a lot of time – that’s the downside,” but was glad to see some work finally being done to businesses in town.

The income guidelines for applying for the grant money are adjusted, based on household size. For example, a family of four with a total income of less than $51,500 would be eligible for the program, according to Peper.

Homeowners are encouraged to call as soon as possible for an application. The deadline has been set for Saturday, Dec. 31 to complete the program. People must have applications turned in by Friday, Nov. 11. The funding from the grant comes from federal HUD (Housing, Urban Development) dollars, and was given to each state to distribute accordingly.

For an application, call Diane Pettipiece at (507) 625-6076. For more detailed information, call Peper at 800-572-0617.

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