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Rock Falls gets $250,000 home rehab grant

Ongoing program has now brought in $1.6 million

ROCK FALLS – The city will receive a $250,000 federal grant to fix up several single-family homes this year.

The money comes from the Single-Family Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation program, administered by the Illinois Housing Development Authority. The program is funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The ongoing program helps low-income homeowners make necessary but costly repairs such as roofing, furnaces, windows and wiring. It targets potential health and safety problems, and building code violations.

The program is run locally by municipalities, as is the case with Rock Falls, or by nonprofit organizations that head up housing programs.

The city will be able to do another six homes this year, said Mark Searing, Rock Falls building inspector. He said the homeowners are chosen from the top of the waiting list.

“They are chosen on a first-come, first-served basis, but it also depends on how many houses we apply for,” Searing said.

The application calls for breaking down requests into different categories, such as general low-income or seniors over 65.

Two homes have been chosen, and letters are being sent to verify application information on two others, Searing said.

“I’m doing write-ups on two homes now to put up for bids,” Searing said. “Once we sign the paperwork, contractors have 90 days to complete the jobs.”

Most of the contractors are from Rock Falls, Sterling or Dixon, Searing said.

Since the city started applying for the grants in 2006, $1.6 million has been made available to rehab city homes, Mayor Bill Wescott said. For those interested, however, patience comes into play.

“There is an illustrated need for this program, given there are currently 117 people on the waiting list for this grant money,” Wescott said.

Under the program guidelines, amounts between $4,000 and $40,000 can be used to bring a property up to codes and standards. The money comes in the form of a deferred, forgivable loan with no interest. If a loan is less than $14,999, it is forgiven over 5 years; loans between $15,000 and $40,000 are forgiven over 10 years. Homeowners must remain in the home through the loan periods, or they can be responsible for repayment.

To be eligible, homeowners’ income must not exceed 80 percent of the area’s median household income, which in Whiteside County is $57,600. The home to be worked on must be the primary residence of the homeowner, and the appraised value when finished must not exceed a designated ceiling. The work must also meet federal and state repair standards.

To apply

Applications for the Single-Family Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation grant program are available at For more information, call City Administrator Robbin Blackert at 815-564-1366.

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