By Dedra Cordle
The Urbancrest Community Improvement Corporation (UCIC) is undertaking one of its largest funding projects to date.
According to its president, Carl Smith, the non-profit organization has established a home and land improvement rebate program to assist village property owners who want to make exterior repairs.
Smith said the intention behind the new program is to lessen the financial burden of costly home improvement projects.
“There are a lot of people out here who want to make home improvements but cannot due to finances,” he explained. “This program can be a way to help these hard working people out here a bit.”
Under the guidelines of the program, only certain exterior improvements are eligible. Those included are dead tree removal, exterior painting, siding improvements, driveway repair, window replacement, gutter and downspout repair and the permanent removal of disabled vehicles. Exterior work, such as fencing and the demolition of structures such as detached sheds and garages are eligible under the program but property owners may need to obtain a permit before that work can be done.
Another guideline of the home and land improvement rebate program is that the UCIC will only pay up to $5,000 of the cost of improvements; anything more than that is up to the property owner.
Smith said the program, which could cost the organization up to $100,000 depending on how many property owners take advantage of the program, is a way to give back to the community.
“We want people to take pride in where they live,” he said.
He added that he hopes that by seeing home repairs taking place throughout the community, it will inspire others to do the same.
A bit of inspiration is actually how this program came to be, Smith explained.
It happened last fall when Smith came across a television segment spotlighting the city of Whitehall’s upcoming home repair project.
“I was sitting there, watching that segment and thought ‘why can’t we have something like that here?’” he said.
Shortly thereafter, he brought the idea before the UCIC board and asked for their opinion.
“They were all for it,” he said.
Expanding beyond his initial vision, the board set out to create something unique to the village and they came up with a program that Smith called less restrictive than other similar programs.
“We didn’t want our program to be income based or based on someone’s disability status. We wanted to make this program available to every property owner in the village,” he said.
The only true exclusion, he added, was that no members of the UCIC are able to take part in the rebate program.
In the upcoming days, the residents of Urbancrest will be receiving correspondence through the mail from the UCIC further explaining the guidelines of the program, how the rebate and application process will work and the deadlines. Smith said he hopes that the residents will see its benefits and take advantage of the program.
“We want as many residents as possible to take an interest,” he said.
For more information, visit www.urbancrestcic.org.