Take Care of Your Neighbors

Do you have a senior or disabled Tennessee neighbor whose home is in need of a roof, central heat and air, new windows, significant electrical or plumbing, or structural repairs? While we can be busy or focused on our own lives, it’s important to watch out for our neighbors who may need support and assistance, mainly if their home is showing significant signs of deferred maintenance or potentially diminished livability.

It’s good news for our most vulnerable citizens that there is a program available that offers a grant, with a maximum of $10,000, and no requirement of repayment. The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), upon approval of its board of directors, allocates $2.7 million annually for the Emergency Repair Program (ERP). The ERP is designed to correct, repair, or replace an essential system and/or critical structural problem for homeowners who are either elderly (age 60 or over — though some of us would argue that 60 is not elderly!) or disabled.

This is not a comprehensive homeowner rehabilitation program but is targeting essential elements for home safety and livability. The ERP is administered through Tennessee’s Development Districts or Human Resource Agencies to help ensure that the program is available statewide. Homeowners may apply through one of the nine administering agencies.

A crucial point to keep in mind: there is a 50 percent match requirement for the THDA funds used. That may seem daunting on the first read, but the good news is that the 50 percent match can be provided by a variety of resources, including donated labor or materials. Federal sources can also contribute half, through the USDA Rural Development or Weatherization Program. Additional options are the homeowner or their family, church groups or local charities/agencies, or a funding pool or grants from local lenders to the Development District, or any combination of the above.

The challenge with this program, and others like it, are the myriad rules and paperwork steps involved to qualify for the grant and obtain funds. For some elderly or disabled homeowners, this is a daunting prospect to handle themselves. If you know someone who would benefit from this grant, it’s ideal to have a plan in place for assisting them through the process of filling out forms and finding qualified people to do the repairs and overseeing the project from start to finish. For more information about this grant, contact Community Programs at 615-815-2030.

Sher Powers is president of Greater Nashville REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribes to its strict code of ethics. Contact her at 615-430-6861 or spowers@realtracs.com.