Housing rehab programs to start in area

by David Boyle
News Director
Programs designed to rehabilitate houses are set to be making a stronger presence in San Juan County.
Tamara Dockstader is the Community Development Program Manager for Southeastern Regional Development Agency (SERDA), formerly SEUALG.
In an interview on the Red Rock Morning show Dockstader explained the four-county association helps administer three grant programs to rehabilitate homes in southeast Utah. Those programs are the single-family housing rehab, Half-Critical Repair and the Olene Walker Fund.
Dockstader explained to qualify for up to $25,000 through the single-family housing grant homeowners must make 60-percent of the area median income (AMI), 62 years or older on social security, or have a diagnosed mental or physical disability or a child in the home who is 10 or under.
Dockstader explained the rehabilitation of homes is far reaching.
“A person called saying ‘my furnace went out’ or ‘my roof is leaking’. We’ll go out and assess the home. Our job is to make sure we bring that home back to a safe and sanitary position. So they’re calling for a roof, but while we’re there we might find out that there is someone there in a wheelchair and they’re still stepping into the bathroom, so we’re going to put an ADA shower in.”
Other covered rehabilitation includes air conditioning, sewage lines, damaged floors or vanities.
The program is 100 percent free, unless the house is sold or retitled in the first five years, in which case payment will be prorated back.
Another housing rehabilitation program is the Half-Critical Repair. The $18,000 grant is available through covid-funding and is more limited in scope, but it does cover 100 percent of the area median income, meaning more homeowners will qualify for this program. Additionally, the program has no age limits.
Another housing rehab program is a $4,999 grant through the Olene Walker Fund. Dockstader added that the fund also gives low-interest loans for repairs, citing a 30-year $23,000 loan with a $53 monthly payment.
Whether its mold mitigation, roof repair, sewage, making a home ADA accessible or furnace or air conditioning, if its broken Dockstader says its worth the repair.
“We can walk through the program to see where you’re at and see what you qualify for. A lot of people are reluctant to take help but this is help that is recognized and needed.
“It’s difficult for a family of two on social security to save any money to fix these repairs. If they’ve been saving for 5 years they need to save for 10 more because of inflation on the cost of materials. They can never save enough money to fix it.”
The federally funded programs are available throughout the county but Dockstader’s office does not cover the Navajo Nation as the sovereign tribes administer their own funds received by the federal government. 
Dockstader says one reason San Juan County residents might not be aware of the program is because they’ve been unable to get contractors in the area. 
“We are in the middle of vetting our first contractor and also have a gentleman from Moab that’s willing to come down here. So you’re going to see us, you’re going to start seeing us down here.”
The program is part of an overall effort to address southeast Utah housing by keeping viable housing in stock.
In addition to the rehabilitation program Dockstader also talked about a San Juan County housing study. It is underway and expected to be completed partway through the year.
With that complete the study should show the impacts on the economy and workforce and help the county address housing needs by taking the study to elected representation and providers of grants.
“You’ve shown them in black and white what needs to be done. Somebody that just says ‘oh I think we need a triplex’, their grant proposal may be fantastic but they’re not going to move up. The study is so important when asking for grants.”
Dockstader added that people can be hesitant to receive help but qualified homeowners or friends and family can reach out to see what can be done by calling 435-613-0029.

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