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Group gets rural housing grant

Southside Outreach Group, Inc. (SOG) was announced to have received a $350,000 grant from Gov. Terry McAuliffe in June as part of rural homeowner rehabilitation program awards.

According to a press release, the grant is part of $2 million given to six housing rehabilitation programs that cover the Central, Eastern Shore, Piedmont, Shenandoah Valley and Tidewater regions of the commonwealth.

“The funds will provide zero-percent deferred loans for rehabilitation of 51 to 63 owner-occupied modest homes in targeted areas of rural Virginia,” officials said in the release. “This new initiative will complement the existing Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Indoor Plumbing Program’s efforts in rural Virginia by providing rehabilitation to homeowners in need of repairs beyond septic or sewer systems.”

SOG Executive Director Earl Howerton Sr. said the grant will be spread across the three counties the organization serves — Cumberland, Halifax and Prince Edward. He said there was definitely a need for the program.

“We have approximately a list of 40 to 45 potential homeowners that need some type of repairs done that qualify for our program,” Howerton said.

He said in order to qualify for the program and use of funds, one would have to have low-to-moderate income.

“What that means (is) the income could not exceed 80 percent of the area median income for household size, and they must be a homeowner,” Howerton said. “What we are finding through rural Virginia, our counties here, (is that) we’ve got a lot of old housing stock that was built prior to 1978, and we have a lot of homeowners that have insufficient income to really afford the needy repairs that need to be done to their houses.”

Howerton said the organization will have to enter into a contract with DHCD which will set requirements for what the funds are used for.

In the press release, McAuliffe said he was pleased to announce the grants that will improve existing affordable housing in rural Virginia.

“Rehabilitation assistance for housing occupied by low- and moderate-income homeowners in rural Virginia makes critical repairs possible that otherwise are unaffordable,” McAuliffe said.