By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — An $850,000 grant will turn 28 low-income North Country families into homeowners.
St. Lawrence County has contracted with Housing Assistance Program of Essex County to find qualified low-income households in seven regional counties to participate in the North Country Direct Homeownership Assistance Program.
It is funded through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council by the State Office of Community Renewal.
Counties asked to join St. Lawrence in the effort are Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson and Lewis.
Franklin County legislators took no action this week on a resolution from St. Lawrence County seeking a contract to administer the program, saying they want more details before making a decision.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors’ Ways and Means Committee approved a similar resolution earlier this week, and it will be voted on by the full board Monday.
Deputy County Administrator Rodney Brown said Clinton County passed a resolution to contract with St. Lawrence County, adding that the county has an existing agreement and relationship with the Housing Assistance Program for another housing program.
He said Clinton County expects to have four participating families.
“We’ll try to be as equitable as possible, but we hope to have four homes per county,” said Matilda Larson of the St. Lawrence County Planning Office.
She said this is the first time such a program has been offered in Hamilton County, where property values are high, making it more difficult for administrators to find eligible homes for qualified families.
“It will require a little more legwork,” Larson said.
She said it will be easier to administer the program in the other counties because most have a waiting list of program-eligible families.
Larson said there is also an educational aspect on “vital life skills,” in addition to the program’s funding assistance, such as helping a new owner understand and budget for a mortgage, choosing a home to fit the family’s income and tips on how to avoid predatory lenders.
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FOR MORE INFO
To learn more about the North Country Direct Homeownership Program, contact the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County at 873-3691 or email info@HAPEC.org.