By CRISTIN REECE
If you qualify, they will build.
Palestine City Council earlier this week approved a contract with Gary Traylor & Associates of Tyler to begin preliminary work on a new round of HOME grant applications, which promises to help repair or replace substandard homes in the city of Palestine.
“I know of several citizens who have benefited from this program,” Councilman Vernon Denmon Jr. said during the regular council meeting Monday.
According to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ website, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME Program) is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and works to help provide decent, safe, affordable housing to low income citizens.
“We’ve worked with the city of Palestine on this before and have been able to build at least 15 houses for Palestine residents who qualified,” said Ken Hamner, a project manager with Traylor and Associates.
Officials with the TDHCA said the city of Palestine has been participating in the department’s various housing programs since 1993, including the Homebuyers Assistance Program. Last year, the city received $336,000 to help rebuild four homes within the city limits of Palestine.
“The HOME Program is one of our biggest programs that not only improves the quality of life for the individual citizen, but improves the overall quality and aesthetic of the city as well,” HOME Program Director Jennifer Molinari said. “The city of Palestine has been an active participant and has really been able to take advantage of this and our other programs for the benefit of its residents.”
Grant qualifications are based on home ownership, residence, income level, location and degree of dilapidation.
“Homeowners will be asked to provide proof of ownership and that they live in the home, their income level and that the home is located within the city limits of Palestine,” Hamner said. “We also look at what shape the home is in. If we’re looking at two potential projects — one where the roof is good and the foundation is still level and another where maybe you could see daylight through the walls, we’re going to choose the latter because the need is greater.”
Hamner told council members during Monday’s meeting the city could potentially build up to 11 new homes this year, as grant parameters have changed — changes that include the elimination of a city match.
City officials said the grant also provides funds to help offset Traylor & Associates’ grant administration costs.