Many landlords on waiting list for grant to repair apartments

Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 5:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - More than 200 rental property owners in Jefferson County applied for a grant for up to $10,000 for repairs. Only 50 of those applications were accepted.

It’s simple supply and demand says the Jefferson County Economic Development agency as it hopes to secure a round of funding.

The Deferred Maintenance Grant gives Jefferson County landlords up to $10,000 to make repairs in rental units where tenants didn’t pay rent during the pandemic’s eviction moratorium.

Officials knew the money would go fast. In fact, it was gone almost overnight.

“It went extremely fast. We got that out towards the end of last week. When I came in Monday morning, we had over 50 applications,” said Marshall Weir, deputy CEO, Jefferson County Economic Development.

Fifty is the maximum number of people who can be helped, but Weir has around 200 applications creating a waiting list.

“I was very surprised. I was pleased because we had such a good reaction to the grant, and that’s what it’s for. But I was surprised that it happened so fast. It really shows the need on this particular, you know, these landlords need help,” he said.

On the waiting list: Bill Bonner, owner of a handful of Watertown properties. By the time he heard about the grant money, it was too late.

“The fact that I, the funding opened on Monday and by Monday afternoon I was already on a waitlist just illustrates that it’s not just myself. It’s other property owners in town that have not had rent paid, and beyond that have had their property destroyed,” he said.

We got to see why Bonner applied for the grant. His property on Mundy Street sits with broken windows, holes in the walls, and graffiti. The damage, he said, was damaged while a tenant didn’t pay rent during the pandemic and he couldn’t evict them.

Bonner renovated the apartment to be brand new just 2 and a half years ago.

“If I get some grant money, and I do appreciate the program, I hope I get off the waiting list. I’ll see what I can do to get this duplex back to a livable standard again,” he said.

Meanwhile the JCED will try to get another round of funding with the belief that improving area homes is also good for what it does.

“It’s important for economic development. Even something as small as putting a roof on somebody’s house and making our community as nice and welcoming as possible is economic development,” said Weir.

It’ll be up to the county legislature to decide if more funding will be given to the economic development group to help landlords who have been left with a mess.

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