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The City of Cannon Falls received almost $600,000 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation through the Small Cities Development Program, which is allocating $20 million state-wide. There will be 21 home rehabilitation projects that residents who qualify can apply for. Photo from Pixabay

The City of Cannon Falls will receive $591,675 for owner-occupied housing rehabilitation, Gov. Tim Walz’s office announced on Tuesday, Nov. 15. 

The money will cover 21 projects that will be available to Cannon Falls residents in the first few months of 2023 on a first-come, first-serve basis, as long as they meet income requirements. An approved applicant can receive up to $25,000 in the form of a 10-year forgivable loan. As long as they stay in the home that receives the project for 10 years, the loan is forgiven.

The money is part of $20 million that will be distributed to 34 townships, cities and counties as part of the Small Cities Development Program to promote economic development in greater Minnesota. The money is to be used for infrastructure and housing rehabilitation projects. 

The city, in partnership with the Southeastern Minnesota Multi-County Housing & Redevelopment Authority (SEMMCHRA), went through a lengthy application process to receive the funds. Moving forward, SEMMCHRA will be handling the application process for Cannon Falls residents and the distribution of funds. 

“We’re really excited with the announcement,” said Nick Koverman, community development director with SEMMCHRA. “This has been a long time coming for Cannon Falls. Typically we see those reward announcements in September and we were very excited when we received the announcement last week.”

The application process for the funds began back in 2021. The city, along with SEMMCHRA, started with a pre-application where they surveyed residents to see if there was a need and interest in the projects. They were then chosen to submit a final application back in March of 2022 after being deemed competitive.

“The ultimate goal at the end of the day is to keep people in their homes and reinvest in the community,” Koverman said. “That’s why the program is geared toward low-to-moderate income residents. In people’s minds when you think of low-to-moderate incomes, that could be your neighbor living right next door to you, because the income guidelines are such that it’s not what it used to be.”

Moving forward, a general environmental review will be done in the coming weeks as the city and SEMMCHRA develop policies and procedures. Those will then be approved sometime in January, at which point they will ask the funds be released to DEED. After another final review process in February, SEMMCHRA will begin seeking applications and start a marketing campaign in late winter/early spring. 

While they do not yet have the income thresholds for 2023, Koverman said applications cannot be over 80% of the average median income for the county. Applicants will go through SEMMCHRA, which will distribute the money. 

The most common projects the grant money is used for are roofing, windows, increasing insulation and other improvements that increase energy efficiency, siding, electrical updates and making homes more accessible for those with disabilities or the elderly.

The city of Mazeppa also received $595,125 for owner occupied housing and rental rehabilitation. More details will become available when the marketing campaign begins and SEMMCHRA opens the application process. 

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