North Olmsted City Council considering ARPA-funded grants for storefront renovation and home repair programs

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NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio — Mayor Nicole Dailey Jones announced earlier this year how the city plans to use its $3,283,002 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) award.

With plans to roll out the programs later this year, details emerged targeting businesses and homeowners.

The first is the “Fix Our Fronts” storefront renovation grant program, the second creates a revolving loan fund for home repairs for low- and middle-income homeowners to update their residences.

The mayor said the storefront program, which is expected to receive council approval next month, is tied to the COVID-19 shutdown.

“A lot of our small businesses have taken a hit,” Jones said. “We just want to be able to give them an opportunity to reinvest in North Olmsted – to stay here and grow.”

Endowed with $250,000 in ARPA funds, “Fix Our Fronts” offers grants of up to $20,000 for a complete renovation of retail storefronts. A $5,000 grant is also available to update store signage.

“The ultimate goal is to spur investment, fill some of the vacant storefronts and also give much-needed resources to small business owners who have delayed capital projects during the pandemic,” said Max Upton, director of economic development. and community of North Olmsted.

“We see a number of our peer communities that have this type of incentive or this type of program. If we want to compete for investment, we need to add more tools to our proverbial economic development toolbox. It is an essential program. »

Regarding the needs of the business community, Upton pointed to recent census data which revealed that 80% of housing in North Olmsted was built before 1979.

“It’s reasonable to assume that most commercials that have followed residential are around this age,” Upton said. “Buildings deteriorate over time. Especially in the community where our business footprint is so strong, having these resources is essential for business owners and individuals looking to move into our community and fill some of the empty storefronts.

The home repair program, using $450,000 in ARPA funds, may soon be approved by city council. Eligible residents can receive up to $15,000 to repair their home.

“It’s for people who are within 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines,” Upton said. “So a family of four who lives in North Olmsted and earns less than $83,250 is eligible for this scheme. It really is a program for the middle class.

The home repair program also targets older people, with 30% of North Olmsted’s population being aged 64 and over.

“Another key data point is that about 20% of our residents spend more than 30% of their income on housing,” Upton said. “The conclusion we’ve come to is that there need to be more resources available for people to stay in their homes and age in place in their communities.”

So far, reaction to the proposed home repair program has drawn a positive response from seniors calling city hall and inquiring about funding.

“North Olmsted has an aging housing stock with a large proportion of our older homeowners on fixed incomes,” Jones said.

“By being able to cut red tape and partner with the housing network, we’re going to be able to save people money and let them reinvest in their homes so they can continue to stay there. That’s what we want.

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