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Rural housing assistance opens new doors

Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni held a special housing information session last week to inform citizens of incentives available through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Tri-County Community Action Agency at the Bacon District Fire Department.

Gracie Brown, Tri-County Community Action Agency Representative said there are many programs available to assist qualified candidates with their housing needs.

She said the agency serves Charlotte, Halifax and Mecklenburg counties.

Brown currently has an office in the Charlotte County Social Services building and does the intake portion for weatherization.

Tri-County Community Action Agency’s Housing Services Director Tamela Owen said “a lot of times I get calls, people think that’s the home repair program, but it’s not. Weatherization helps you insulate your home.”

Owen said the process air seals the home.

“It’s kind of like putting your house in a trash bag and tying a knot on it,” she said.

The process would help trap warm air inside during the winter season and cool air inside during the summer months.

“Therefore, lowering your electric bill,” said Owen. “We see a significant change.”

She said if there was improper heating, the issue would be addressed possibly through repair or replacement measures.

“We do the intake at the Charlotte County Social Services …” said Brown.

She said if it was determined that the home could not be weatherized due to various stipulations, then a home repair loan through the USDA could be acquired.

Brown said a grant/loan program is available for home repairs.

“The grant does only apply to people that are 62 or older,” she said.

Owen said with weatherization, the service is offered every 16 years, meaning citizens may reapply to receive the service again every 16 years.

“Those measures are supposed to be done so well that they carry through the 16 years,” said Owen.

Terri Muse, Tri-County Community Action Agency’s Emergency Services Outreach Worker, said the agency also can provide rental assistance services for qualified individuals.

She said the program would be starting again at the end of July/beginning of August.

Muse said Tri-County could also help individuals with budgeting and credit repair to help those take advantage of USDA programs to purchase a home.

“You are entitled to one free copy every 12 months,” said Muse referencing a credit report.

She said the credit score is a big factor associated with the USDA program

“We can do a 620,” said Khristy Watson, Area 2 USDA Specialist. “Although we’re not totally score driven.”

Each program offered has income guidelines.

Watson said the USDA program allows individuals who are unable to get traditional lending through a bank the opportunity to buy a home.

“This is a beautiful program,” she said. “Our payments are oftentimes subsidized.”

“Payments are based on household size and income,” said the information.

Additionally, the information said homes must be modest in size, design and cost, typically staying under 2,000 square feet.

While no down payment is required, closing costs will typically fall between $2,500-$3,500.

Watson said the repair program offered is also a beautiful program, which offers loans for 20 years at a 1 percent interest rate.

She said repairs can be anything, including window or flooring repair.

“It allows folks to stay in their homes,” said Watson.

In addition to the event by Pierantoni, the agency attended the June meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors to discuss available programs.

For more program information and full requirements, contact Gracie Brown at Charlotte County Social Services at (434) 542-5164.