Mayor, HUD Representatives Join Non-profit Organizations in Commitment to Improving Homes and Neighborhoods
Mayor Tom Henry was joined by representatives from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as others from the administration and non-profit housing providers to declare Home Ownership Week in Fort Wayne and to emphasize the importance of home ownership to our community.
“We know how vital it is to have owner-occupied homes in neighborhoods,” said Mayor Henry. “Home ownership creates community stakeholders who are active in their community, and it's good for the families, too. Children of homeowners do better in school, and are more likely to graduate. The stable environment that comes from home ownership benefits individuals, families and entire neighborhoods.”
Home ownership does not come easily, however, the mayor pointed out. Many challenges can occur, from health issues preventing a home owner from keeping up the maintenance on a house to an act of nature such a flood damaging a basement or a tree limb falling on a roof. In these cases, some homeowners without resources see their property fall into disrepair, which impacts the family and the neighbors and can begin to change the character of a whole block.
Mayor Henry went on to say, “Government has a role to play in helping strengthen and stabilize neighborhoods, but we can't---and shouldn't---do it alone.” He detailed programs funded through HUD's allocation of federal housing dollars (about $1,300,800) to the City each year, which help fund many programs, such as downpayment assistance and homeowner rehabilitations, as well as emergency repair when something unexpected happens and a family doesn't have the resources to fix it right away. “More important,” said the Mayor, “we are working in collaboration with non-profit organizations throughout the City to help foster programs that assist those who need help in a neighbor-to-neighbor approach. Many years ago, this is how things were accomplished; when someone needed help, neighbors rallied around and lent a hand. The organizations represented here today have that spirit of mission, and act on their motivation to help those who need it, recognizing that those efforts strengthen more than the single family.”
The City will designate $5,000 of its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to encourage matching up needy owner occupants with volunteers who are willing to provide free or reduced-cost labor and materials to repair the homes. For instance, if a homeowner has some sort of emergency plumbing issue, the fund may help pay for the skills of a plumber, while volunteers from non-profits may provide the labor and materials to tackle the clean up portion of the situation.
In the coming months, the City will be exploring opportunities to collaborate with its housing partners to leverage more private resources to help homeowners stabilize their property and strengthen neighborhoods.
To see video from the news conference, visit this YouTube link.