With winter just around the corner, hundreds of Buffalo homeowners like Mary Lou Griffin are desperate to get badly needed repairs done through the city's low interest rehab loan program.
Griffin's 40-year-old roof is now leaking like a sieve when it rains, causing a cave-in of her daughter's second floor kitchen ceiling.
"I was thinking about going to the bank and see if I could borrow some money to have it done. But then they said they would do it, but they just told me to hold on Mrs. Griffin," she said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development froze the block grants for the rehab program last year after an audit showed government guidelines were not being followed.
Back in July, work seemed to be starting back up, when the roof on this North Buffalo house was replaced. But then everything stopped again while city officials ironed out the red tape with HUD.
Brendan Mehaffy of the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency said, "It was extraordinarily burdensome for all involved, in particular the people who have been suffering with these conditions."
Now the agency has forwarded 50 rehab loan applications to Comptroller Mark Schroeder's office, a safeguard that is now required by HUD.
"This month, on two days - on a Friday and on a Monday - we have received nearly 50 applications," he said.
So why did it take so long to get the program back on track? Mehaffy says old contracts had to be re-negotiated in a way that was fair.
"Our expectation is that these will be done by winter. But we have to work with the contractors and their schedules, and what other work they have going," Mehaffy said.
Around 200 homeowners have applied for the low interest loan rehab program, and so far, more than 50 applications have been processed. Now that the contracts have been re-tooled, work could begin in a matter of days.
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