City of Muskegon giving out grants to ‘empower homeowners’

Applications for new rounds of neighborhood and homeowner improvement grants are now available for targeted city of Muskegon neighborhoods.

The grants are funded by a one-time award of $349,000 the city received from the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan.

Fair housing centers across the country received settlement dollars from Fannie Mae – the government-supported residential mortgage institution -- from a lawsuit over foreclosed homes not being properly maintained in urban neighborhoods.

The city’s Fair Housing award is targeted to specific U.S. Census tracts in the Nelson, McLaughlin, Angell, Jackson Hill, Marquette, Steele, Sheldon Park, Marsh Field and East Muskegon neighborhoods. The city’s Community and Neighborhood Services Department has a $295,000 Fair Housing Home Repair Program, a $25,000 Fair Housing Beautification Program and a $29,000 Fair Housing Neighborhood Grant Program for neighborhood associations.

Aimed at specific neighborhoods

“We want to provide support for our neighborhoods that have been underrepresented and address past wrongs in Fannie Mae’s handling of foreclosed houses,” said Sharonda Carson, director of community and neighborhood services. “We want to empower homeowners and have them take pride in their homes and their neighborhoods.”

The Fair Housing Repair Program is for those homeowners in the targeted census tracts with lower incomes for exterior repairs such as new roofs, siding, steps and ramps, among other items.

Details of the program and an application can be found at Fair-Housing-Repair-Program-Application or at Muskegon City Hall, Community and Neighborhood Services, Room 202, 933 Terrace, Muskegon.

The Fair Housing Beautification Program offers $200 Home Depot gift cards for homeowners in the targeted census tracts to improve the front of their houses by painting, landscaping, lighting or similar upgrades. Meanwhile, the third year of the city’s $36,000 Homeowner Beautification Grant Program provides $200 Home Depot gift cards to owner-occupied homes for front yard improvements in the Angell, Mclaughlin, Marsh Field, Nelson, Marquette, Steele, Sheldon Park, Oakview and East Muskegon neighborhoods.

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.