Cass County Emergency Repair Program accepting applications

Published 1:05 pm Thursday, October 21, 2021

DOWAGIAC – Low-income residents in need of emergency home repairs now have government assistance available.

Cass County announced it is accepting applications from eligible residents for an emergency repair program through a Community Development Block Grant awarded to the county.

The Cass County Emergency Repair Program is open to all eligible county residents, and covers repair or replacement of failing furnaces, hot water heaters, water or sewer lines, roofs and electric.

At its Oct. 11 meeting, the Dowagiac City Council approved a resolution to provide administration services to Cass County for its CDBG funds for all Cass County residents.

“If someone’s heat goes out in the winter, or air conditioning goes out, or something falls on the roof and there’s a hole in the roof, and they don’t have the funds to be able to take care of that, this is a source of money they can have,” said Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson, at the Oct. 11 city council meeting. “We know of several people locally through our work in that NEP program who have needs that program couldn’t touch. We’re hoping that they could get in a program like this.”

Eligible applicants must own and reside in a single-family home in Cass County, be up to date on property tax and home insurance payments, and have conventional mortgages or their home is paid off and can produce a deed. Total gross income of applicants must be less than 80 percent of the area median income.

Applicants are required to present proof of household income for each member over 18 years old. Qualifying maximum incomes depends on number of residents per household:

  • One resident: $38,200
  • Two residents: $43,650
  • Three residents: $49,100
  • Four residents: $54,550
  • Five residents: $58,950

Projects costing less than $2,500 are given grants, while projects over $2,500 are zero-interest loans repayable upon sale of the property. Emergency requests for funds will be addressed in a priority order assisting with furnaces, well/water, sanitary, and electric issues as the top priorities.

Other emergency requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Roof repairs will not be considered an emergency repair unless the situation threatens the safety and well-being of the occupants. Roof repairs that threaten the safety of an occupant will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

“When we’re talking about emergency repairs, we’re talking about roofs that are failing enough that it’s raining inside when it’s raining outside,” said Natalie Dean, Dowagiac assistant city manager and county grant fund administrator for the program. “It’s a great benefit for the entire county.”

The application period opened on Oct. 15. There is roughly $57,000 in the fund, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to qualifying applicants.

“We already have applicants from all over the county,” said Dean, adding that the funds may be used up fairly quickly. “It feels great to be able to help and to have resources that we don’t normally have. We’re hoping that the county every year has this kind of money that they can put into the emergency program.”

To apply for the program, contact Dean at NDean@dowagiac.org or call (269) 782-0437. More information on the CDBG grant and Emergency Repair Loan Program, as well as applications, can be found at .cityofdowagiac.com.