At a ribbon-cutting event yesterday at its new office, 1409 W. Sunshine St., Restore SGF announced the launch of its first program to encourage improvements to Springfield’s neighborhoods.
The block grant program will support neighbors working in teams to create a chain reaction of improvements, according to board member and former Springfield City Councilmember Richard Ollis.
The nonprofit is dedicated to reinvestment in older neighborhoods to increase the city’s housing stock through the rehabilitation of older homes, according to Ollis.
“We want to create and enhance complete neighborhoods, but most importantly, we want to promote homeownership, and we’d like to rehabilitate our historic neighborhoods,” Ollis said.
The first round of funding is earmarked for homeowners in five areas: the neighborhoods of Woodland Heights, Grant Beach and Fassnight, plus part of Doling Park east of Robberson Avenue and part of Meador Park east of National Avenue.
Patterned after a similar program in Des Moines, Iowa, the program offers up to $2,500 in matching funds for exterior improvements. Examples include landscaping, concrete repair, exterior painting, siding, roofing and window repair. According to the program description, almost any exterior home improvement that can be seen from the street is eligible for reimbursement.
Neighbors are invited to work in teams of five to 19, with the requirement that participants be able to see their next team member’s home from their front porch, the program requirements state.
The program is funded by investments from 10 financial institutions and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The loan fund totals $1.5 million. The finance partners are Arvest Bank, Mid-Missouri Bank, Commerce Bank, Great Southern Bank, Guaranty Bank, OakStar Bank, OMB Bank, Central Bank, Regent Bank and Legacy Bank & Trust Co.
Teams of five to nine members making improvements are eligible for up to $1,000 reimbursement per member, and larger teams of 10-19 members are eligible for up to $2,500 per member. Participants must be the owners and must be current on their property taxes, and property exteriors must be in compliance with all city property maintenance codes.
Interested teams should submit applications to Restore SGF for approval. Information is available at RestoreSGF.com. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis Sept. 15-Dec. 1.
“I see this block challenge grant program being a great incentive for neighbors to do the upgrades on their homes they have been dreaming of doing,” said Becky Volz, the city’s Neighborhood Advisory Council chair. “The team approach will strengthen the neighborhoods as neighbors work together.”
Ollis said one of the appeals of the program was its ability to build momentum.
“In Des Moines, we found that although it’s a one-for-one match, most people invested more in their home to get the match,” he said. “In other words, it creates a lot more activity and investment than just the match.”
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