After citizens worked hard during 2014 to convince local lawmakers that low-income families in the city needed assistance for these costly repairs, the roofing repair program began earlier this year and was supported by the Action for a Better Community.
A roof repair project, while expensive, is something that the average American homeowner can afford to make. In fact, a recent home repair survey found that more than 60% of Americans planned to spend more on home repairs in 2015 than they were willing to spend in 2014.
But for many low-income residents in the city of Rochester, it’s a different story.
For far too many Rochestarians, it’s impossible to afford home repairs that ensure a comfortable living space now — making repairs as future investments is simply out of the question.
Applicants qualified for the program if they made no more than 50% of the area’s median income (about $23,500 per individual). Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that more than one-third of Rochester city households make less than $25,000 per year, and 15% of city residents over the age of 65 are living below the poverty line.
Over 1,100 people applied for the program, but with only $1.9 million of funds, it’s only able to serve 150 homeowners. A drawing was held in March and 75 applicants were selected, at random, from the pool. Another drawing will be held on June 19 to select another 75 applicants for the 2015 fiscal year.
According to the D&C, many applicants were “unhappy” with the raffle after the first round — and it’s no surprise, since the overwhelming majority of applicants will not receive assistance even after the second round.
Nevertheless, the new lottery system is an improvement from the previous Owner-Occupied Repair Program, which provided similar funding for city residents, and from the Emergency Assistance Repair Program. Both of these programs were criticized for how funds were handed out to residents, since neither program used a fair lottery system.
City officials are hoping that the new program will provide valuable assistance to big families in need, as well as senior citizens.