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NORTH TONAWANDA – The Common Council gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the Office of Community Development to once again seek a $400,000 New York State Office of Community Renewal HOME Investment Partnership grant to improve older, run-down housing that is in need of repair. If approved, the two-year grant would allow 15 low- to moderate-income homeowners to receive money for repairs.

In the past, over a number of years, the city has been able to use these funds to make repairs to 54 single-family homes, which has resulted in more than $1 million in improvements.

The Common Council is not required to match funding but agreed with Community Development Director Richard L. Tindell’s request to put in $30,000 over two years if the loan is approved.

Tindell said the popular program already has a “sizeable waiting list” of 50 people, with about half of those people determined to be eligible for assistance. He said that at this point there are no funds available to help these people.

“We’ve seen some pretty alarming conditions,” said Tindell.

He said the city would concentrate on Wheatfield Street, north to Linwood Avenue, and Payne Avenue to Oliver Street and a portion of River Road. He said these areas have a concentration of low- to moderate-income households that may need help and also has some of the older housing in the city.

“This provides a lot of value to residents,” Tindell said of the grant.

Mayor Robert G. Ortt agreed they should seek the grant and provide $30,000 in city money as an incentive to move the grant application forward.

“These are areas of the city that you want to improve the housing stock. The city does a lot of cash matches for other grants and for me this is no different,” he said.

Tindell said if approved they would not be able to begin offering repair grants until next year. He said the average offered is $20,000 to $25,000 to each homeowner.

The city also announced plans for this summer to partner with Jesse Gooch, the owner of Painters Plus for the fourth annual project HOPE (Helping Others Paint Exteriors). This is a citywide contest to provide an extensive, exterior, home makeover to a homeowner who is disabled, elderly, suffering financial hardships or a disabled veteran.

“It has always been my passion to help people and to make a difference in my community,” said Gooch in announcing the program. He said he’d like to avoid blight in the city and has seen many people who are struggling to maintain or improve their homes.

Over the past three years Project HOPE has helped out homeowners on Linwood Avenue, Robinson Street and Wheatfield Street. Paint for the project is donated by Sherwin Williams on Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda.

Applications for Project HOPE must be submitted by July 18 and can be submitted online at: www.PaintersPlus.US; or by mailing a short letter introducing themselves and describing their hardship, along with a picture to Painters Plus at 800 Walck St., North Tonawanda, NY 14120; or by picking up an application at the Chamber of Commerce on Webster Street.

email: nfischer@buffnews.com