NARRAGANSETT – The Town of Narragansett and the non-profit Washington County Community Development Corporation (WCCDC) are now offering free essential home repairs for low-income residents, utilizing funding from the Rhode Island Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to be distributed locally in the form of community development block grants (CDBG). The town’s home repair program enrollment comes just two weeks after the Narragansett Town Council unanimously approved a motion to direct the town manager to apply for the state funding. 

While the town applied for up to $75,000 to fund the initiative next year, the monies are available on a project-by-project basis. 

“We are intent on distributing $75,000 in the coming year,” said Michael DeLuca, Town of Narragansett Community Development Director. “The idea is to get an allotment to the town, granted by the State of Rhode Island, and then, in concert with WCCDC, seek out income-qualified property owners to do rehabilitation on their homes.” 

In 2016, the Town of Narragansett utilized similar state funding to complete three local projects for a total cost of $30,000. In 2017 and 2018, one project in each year totaled under $15,000 annually. 

“But this last year, we had eight programs that totaled $96,000,” said DeLuca. “What’s interesting is that, even though we set ourselves a cap at $75,000, should we exceed it, the state will fund those applications if there is money in the account.” 

The scope of the work the funding would be available for includes “reasonable” and “necessary” home repairs the completion of which would help residents stay in their homes. Work and renovations as part of the program are completed by qualified contractors. 

“These grants are intended to ensure folks remain in their homes by performing reasonable and necessary repairs,” a town flyer advertising the program reads. “We focus on code violations, health and safety issues, and any other repairs needed to maintain a healthy, safe and sanitary dwelling.” 

Common renovation projects under the housing repair program include roofing, windows, electric, plumbing and structural repairs that are “necessary for health and safety.” 

“There’s been projects with roofs, things like boiler replacements,” said DeLuca. “Very simple kinds of things that are most basic to keeping the home a viable shelter for the property. We’ve addressed electric code issues that were upgraded over the years, and some operating expenses that can be justified also.” 

The Narragansett Planning Board recently approved the town’s application for the funds in a 4-1 vote, with members Terence Fleming, Robin Plaza, Joseph O’Neill, and Donald Leighton in favor and member Vincent Indeglia opposed. 

Applications for Housing Rehab projects are accepted on a rolling basis. Residents who are interested in learning if they are eligible to participate in the program, or what type of improvements can be funded, are encouraged to contact the Washington County Community Development Corporation (CDC) which administers the program on behalf of the town. To learn more contact Alice Buckley, Executive Director of the Washington County CDC at 471 Main St., Wakefield,  or by calling (401) 789-9090. 

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