CROTHERSVILLE

A contractor showed up at Annette Graff’s Crothersville home in the summer and told her what work they would be doing in the coming months.

Crothersville Town Hall officials had helped her fill out an application in late 2015 after the town was awarded $155,570 through an Owner-Occupied Rehab Aging in Place Project grant, which is presented through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

She was so thankful for the help and decided to go to the town hall to express her gratitude.

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“I just gave them the biggest hug and started crying because they made me so happy,” said Graff, 56. “With me and my low income, it saved my life. That’s all I can say. It saved my life.”

Graff’s portion of the grant money allowed her to receive three new doors, new windows, guttering and an overhang on the outside and a new heating and air conditioning unit and an all new bathroom in her home at 107 N. Jackson St.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority provides opportunities for qualifying Hoosier homeowners to receive assistance to make much-needed repairs to their homes, according to in.gov/ihcda.

The program allows eligible entities to apply for grant funding to complete repairs on owner-occupied residential properties. Funding of up to $25,000 may be used to address conditions in a home that, if left unattended, would create an issue with the integrity of the home or become a detriment to the quality of life for the residents.

The Owner-Occupied Rehab Aging in Place Project is designed primarily to assist the elderly, but it also could help those needing handicap accessibility.

Homeowners receiving assistance must provide income documentation. An inspector also visits the homes for lead and home modification assessments and to verify the homeowners’ needs.

That paperwork is sent to the funding agency for approval and then goes to the Department of Natural Resources to make sure the homes are not historic.

Once everything is approved, a bidder’s list is created of eligible contractors. Homes are sent to bid and awarded individually to the lowest, most responsive bidder. There could be a different contractor for each home.

As long as the homeowner stays in their home for three years, they don’t have to pay any money back.

The goal is to help people be able to stay in their homes longer.

In November, Clerk-Treasurer Terry Richey announced Crothersville was one of 12 communities in the state earning the grant. The town received half of the amount it applied for, but officials said they were fortunate because only half of the 24 communities around the state that applied for funding received it.

Crothersville had received $294,062 in 2011, while Seymour was awarded $125,000 in 2008, $187,500 in 2010, $191,450 in 2013 and $209,652 this year.

Victoria Dake, who works in housing grants management for Columbus-based Administrative Resources association, has administered the program for Crothersville.

Seven Crothersville homes initially were approved for the program, but the town council recently learned $3,700 remained, so an eighth person will receive assistance.

Graff’s home was the first one to have work completed. Another one has since been completed, while work on the other homes is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

“The work completed on the homes varies depending on the safety and health concerns in each home,” Dake said. “This is an Aging in Place program, so the focus is to do repairs that help with home modifications, such as walk-in showers, grab bars, better lighting throughout the house and eliminating any entry barriers for them. Other common work items include new roof, electrical upgrades and HVAC units.”

Graff said her daughter told her about the program and encouraged her to apply.

She said her home was built in 1869 in Tampico and at one time served as a two-room schoolhouse. It later was moved to Crothersville.

Graff said her home was in “terrible” condition when she moved in 10 years ago.

“My daughter lived here for a while, and every water line it in froze and busted,” she said. “We had to wait until they could come out in the middle of winter and dig across the road because it was on the other side of the road where it was broken.”

Graff has lived on disability for a couple of years and is on a fixed income, so that made it difficult for her to pay for home repairs.

Had she not received the grant funding, she said it would have taken about $20,000 of her own money to pay for the improvements.

“You’ve got to have a home. That’s all there is to it. You’ve got to have someplace to live,” she said. “If you can, you can get a little bit (of work) done at a time, and that’s what I was working on.”

She had been using gas heaters and window air conditioning units in her home; the windows were not insulated very well and she had to use a sump pump. And outside, there was no guttering or overhang.

To add to her troubles, this past year she suffered two strokes three months apart and had to have surgery on a main artery.

“I got sick last year and had to move to my ex-husband’s house in Salem,” she said. “I was lost for quite a bit of time. If it hadn’t been for my ex-husband waiting on me hand and foot, I wouldn’t have made it.

“I couldn’t even walk when I first started taking rehab,” she said. “They had to teach me how to walk, and then three months later, they had to do it again, but they’ve done a wonderful job for me.”

Graff moved back to her Crothersville home in April, about four months before the contractor, Jeda Electric, Heating and Cooling in Seymour, started working on her home.

After the windows were replaced, metal framing was placed around each one to provide better insulation. White shutters with star cutouts that a family member had made also were placed around some of the windows.

Two doors on the right side of the home and one on the front were replaced.

Graff said the new guttering and overhang on the house should help get water away from her home after it rains. Her nephew had built a porch on the back of her home to help with drainage issues.

Inside the home, Graff said she is happy to have central heating and air conditioning.

“They had to go up in the attic and put the heat coming down because everything where my furnace was, was all rusted out,” she said. “They had difficulty in the bathroom to get vents to it because there wasn’t enough room for anyone to get in there, so they had to do some finagling.”

Graff said she is most happy with her bathroom, where she received a walk-in shower, a shower chair and grab bars.

“I used to have one of those old metal tubs, and they like to never carried it out of the house. It was so heavy,” she said.

Dake said she was glad to hear Graff is thankful for the home improvements.

“Homeowners are very appreciative of the grant funding,” Dake said. “These repairs are typically not something they are able to afford and alleviates a lot of stress for them.”

The number of communities receiving Owner-Occupied Rehab Aging in Place Project grants each year depends on the state’s funding. Typically, there’s only one funding round per year, around July.

“It is a very competitive program, and cities and towns can apply every year if they have enough interested applicants,” Dake said. “It is also important to note that cities and towns who have not received a recent program typically score higher than those that have.”

On the Web

For information about the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, visit in.gov/ihcda.

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.