City offers flood victims no-interest grants

Voting in support of an estimated $850,000 in combined funds, City of Rockford aldermen opened the door to financial assistance for Labor Day flood victims.

The unanimous vote on the Council floor allows for the funding of the Rockford Area Disaster Assistance Recovery Plan (RADAR), a no-interest grant program available to income-qualifying citizens in the defined flood area.

While many of the residents of the flood area have applied for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, some have found they may not meet the defined SBA criteria. In answer to this need, the City of Rockford’s Human Services Department has designed the RADAR plan as a complementary program that encourages those citizens who have been denied an SBA loan the opportunity to apply for a city-funded grant.

“Applying for the SBA loan is the essential first step,” said Jennifer Jaeger, Community Services Block Grant director for the City of Rockford’s Human Services Department.

Once an applicant has applied with the SBA, they will be offered the opportunity to meet with Human Services staff. This initial meeting with Human Services allows the opportunity to assess for volunteer assistance, such as clothing or furniture needs, as well as to determine if there are any outstanding needs not met by the SBA loan.

If the owner has not made repairs or has made repairs without permits, Human Services staff will offer to have an approved contractor inspect the home.

“The purpose of this inspection is tri-fold,” Jaeger said. “First, we need to check for life safety issues on non-permit repairs. Second, we need to obtain an estimate on future repairs. Finally, we will want to provide an estimate to the SBA for homeowners approved for the SBA loan program.”

Once the applicant has a SBA denial, Human Services staff will meet one more time with the applicant to gather needed documentation and to authorize the contractor to proceed with repairs. Repairs are limited to life safety issues, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing and minor structural repairs that may be required to make the other repairs complete and to code. Major structural repairs will not be eligible at this time because of the limited amount of funds available.

Applications will be accepted at the City of Rockford Human Services Department, 612 N. Church St. Questions may be directed to 987-5685.

As a reminder, residents of Winnebago County and the surrounding counties may apply for low-interest SBA loans until March 6.

From the Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2007, issue

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