FAIRFIELD — The town’s low-income homeowners can apply for a federally funded housing assistance program that spends money to fix up aging homes.

The purpose of the Fairfield Home Repair and Replacement Program, according to administrator Carlton Pinney, is to prevent situations in which a home becomes so run down that it is uninhabitable.
Fairfield was awarded a $250,000 federal grant earlier this year. Applications for the money became available at the town office on Friday.

The town initially applied for a $500,000 grant, but Pinney said the competition for the money is more intense because of state and federal spending cuts. This year, Augusta was awarded one $500,000 grant, and the other $500,000 was split between Fairfield and Bucksport.

Pinney said the town’s application was helped by a 2006 housing assessment study that demonstrated the need.

“A town like Fairfield, which has a lot of big old houses with a lot of lead paint, you’ve got a population that is not well off,” he said. “It’s not a wealthy town.”

The money is administered by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which disperses money on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In order to be eligible for the program, homeowners must be income-qualified and own a single-family home.

Pinney said a typical project will include needing about $15,000 worth of repairs such as roofing, window and door replacement, siding, electrical and plumbing repairs, heating system upgrades, handicapped accessibility and insulation.

In some cases, severely deteriorated homes could be replaced with new ranch houses built on the site, according to Town Manager Josh Reny.

The six-page application is available for download on the town’s website, www.fairfieldme.com, and asks for proof of income, bank account statements, a copy of the homeowner’s deed and a copy of the most recent tax bill, among other things.

Owners of mobile homes are also eligible, even if they rent the land that the home is on.

Pinney estimated the money would cover projects for about half of the qualified applicants, and said priority will be given to houses that are at the highest risk of becoming uninhabitable.

“It’s severity of need,” he said. “If they had a septic system and it’s failed, that puts you in the top of the list. You can’t live in a home without sewage.”

About 20 people filled out a pre-application to demonstrate the need for the program, but they people will have to fill out the full applications as well, Pinney said.

While administering the grant, Pinney said he will also be working on behalf of home improvement programs by the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
[email protected]