Rep. Pavliga highlights housing resources after winter summit

In the wake of an affordable housing summit State Rep. Gail Pavliga held in January, she is working with local agencies to ensure staff and applicants know about various programs and grants.

At Pavliga’s request, representatives from numerous county agencies and nonprofits, along with some school superintendents, met in February to discuss Portage County’s lack of safe and affordable housing, including options for people with criminal backgrounds, substance abuse issues and mental health challenges.

Pavliga closed the summit with a pledge to work with her staff to find policy and funding options. In a March 26 email to attendees, she stated that funding exists to supply housing for people with mental health challenges and for senior citizens, and that a new round of applications for tax credits launches this month, she said.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency offers numerous programs to help Ohioans realize their dreams of home ownership, including 30-year, fixed-rate FHA, VA, USDA-RD and conventional mortgage loans.

Additionally, the OHFA rewards state residents who serve the public with discounted mortgage rates. Potential recipients include active military and veterans, first responders (including volunteer firefighters), various medical provider categories and teachers.

Next Home, another OHFA program, provides 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to qualifying people who are not first time home buyers, and the state treasurer’s office has created special savings accounts that allow qualifying buyers to access above-market interest rates and potential state tax deductions.

Grants for Grads provides discounted mortgage rates to recent graduates and may include up to 5% down payment assistance that is forgiven after five years as long as the graduate remains in Ohio.

Because the initial round of applications for grants closed Feb. 9 and coordinating all the local agencies and nonprofits to apply for the next round by May 31 would be difficult, Pavliga said she will coordinate with the Portage Metropolitan Housing Authority to apply for a Welcome Home Ohio-Purchasing grant.

These grants, Pavliga wrote, provide funds to cover the cost of purchasing a qualifying residential property. Land banks, land reutilization corporations and electing subdivisions are eligible for up to $30,000 per qualifying residential property.

She also said she will work with the county’s senior services department and Family & Community Services of Portage County to identify the need of senior living housing and pinpoint other nonprofits or companies that may be interested in developing senior living facilities.

Pavliga said PMHA and F&CS could work closely with Portage Area Transitional Housing to learn what kind of transitional housing could be workable in Portage County, and where it could be located.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.