This week at their regular meeting, Delta County Commissioners supported a grant submitted by the Delta Housing Authority to help low income residents stay in their homes – not only in Delta but also in Montrose, San Miguel and Ouray counties.
Delta Housing Authority Director Jo Rosenquist asked the commissioners to sign on to a grant from the Department of Local Affairs that provides loan and grant assistance to low-income residents of the multi-county area. Spearheaded by the Delta Housing Authority, the consortium has received such grants for the past seven years, and they serve a need -- especially in Delta County which ranks in the bottom ten poorest counties in the state.
“Simply because of lack of what do they say?” asks Rosenquist, “Critical mass? We are a fairly resource-barren part of the state. We don’t have a lot of large employers. Delta County suffers from something that isn’t quite as big an impact in Montrose or San Miguel or Ouray counties, because we’re not a real destination tourist stop. So we see an additional layer of poverty because we don’t have people coming to Delta just to vacation.”
According to Rosenquist, tourists aren't coming to Grand Mesa, or for a tour of the wine country of the North Fork either. If they're coming for that, they'll visit Palisade, more likely. The grant will provide funds to rehab houses owned by low-income residents.
“It’s for our low-income folks who are in a home and need to have some work done to meet health and safety standards to remain in that home,” says Rosenquist. “With our seniors, it’s often putting in a ramp or widening doorways so a wheelchair will fit, or putting grab bars in a bathroom. Many times, because we have a lot of older housing stock in Delta County, it’s weatherization issues…we do work with other organizations that do weatherization, we work with Habitat for Humanity here in Delta County, and in Montrose County ...so we leverage what gets done.”
Most of the funds come in the form of low or no interest loans. But sometimes the recipients clearly aren’t in a position to pay them off.
“If we have seniors living on very limited income some of those can be deferred,” she says. “There’s a certain percentage of our portfolio, we can only defer up to 25 percent of it. We are there at this time. We really have been dealing with some very low income people.”
The grant for about $98,000 is to cover administrative costs of the program. There is a revolving fund of about $1.5 million available for the loans and assistance.