City of Dowagiac accepting applications for fifth round of Neighborhood Enhancement Grant

DOWAGIAC — Residents living in the northern neighborhood of the city will now have a chance to improve their homes aesthetically.

The city of Dowagiac is currently taking applications for the 2020 Round 5 Neighborhood Enhancement Grant until 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10.

The grant, awarded by the Michigan State Housing Department Authority, will award NEP grant dollars to six homes in the northern neighborhoods of the city. The grant will provide up to $5,000 worth of exterior improvements to single-family homes in the city of Dowagiac to enhance curb and neighborhood appeal. The enhancements come in the form of paved driveways, updated porches and landscaping.

To qualify for the grant, homeowners must own a single-family home within the city of Dowagiac, and it must be their primary residence. Interested applicants must also meet income requirements and cannot be delinquent in their mortgage, insurance or utility payments. The selected homes also cannot have any outstanding code enforcement cases pending.

However, the improvements do not stop there. The city was also awarded an additional $25,000 in high performer grant dollars for its work on Round 4 NEP grants.

“Round 4 we did last year between July and December,” said Assistant City Manager Natalie Dean. “At the end of the grant, MSHDA decided we administered the grant so well, and our projects went so well that we were awarded extra money. I applied for it and had no idea whether we would get it.”

During the administration of the Round 4 NEP grant, 10 homes, including Dowagiac resident Rita Holloway’s house on Grove Street, secured visual enhancements.

The additional $25,000 of high performer money will be administered in the southern neighborhoods. Dean said 14 or 15 applicants applied last fall, and she will be speaking with them to see how they can still use the grant money.

“I am hoping to help the people who already applied, but we will see what happens,” she said.

With the application open less than a week, Dean said she has already received some interest and had a man stop in to pick up an application.

For Round 5, the city will be doing a lottery system instead of a first-come-first-serve basis, which was used during Round 5.

“The last time we were left with so many applicants that we just couldn’t pick everybody, so this year we are going to make it as fair as we can by doing a public opening,” Dean said.

The public lottery drawing will be hosted in the city hall chambers at 3 p.m. Monday, April 13, to determine who will receive this year’s grants.

Dean has also uploaded the application to the city of Dowagiac’s website amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not a huge application, and we are hoping that will stop people from trying to get out and about to drop it off,” she said.

Dean said she hopes residents will take advantage of the curb-side enhancements the grant can provide for homes.

“This year we can do 11 homes total, instead of 10. We are just picking up the pace,” Dean said.

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