KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 30 people in Kansas City, Missouri’s eastside neighborhoods already have applied for a grant designed to help improve distressed neighborhoods.
The city has made nearly $500,000 available to homeowners in the North Blue Ridge, Sheffield, Blue Valley and McCoy Park neighborhoods through the Federal Home Loan Bank Home Repair Program.
Many more residents — including Bernice Howe, who lives in the North Blue Ridge neighborhood — have inquired about the program over the phone, according to the city.
She’s been trying to fix up her house, but the costs added up too quickly.
"Delayed maintenance is money, and that's what holds us all up,” Howe said. “I've been wanting to get all this work done, but I just don't have the funds.”
She hopes the grant program, which is administered through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, will provide a much-needed helping hand.
"I was quick about it, I'm telling ya,” Howe said. “I was really quick. In fact, the ladies I turned it (her grant application) into said I was the first one that put one in.”
Howe already has a plan for spending the money — replacing drafty windows, aging siding and leaky gutters.
Each homeowner approved for a grant will receive roughly $15,000 to $20,000. The program should benefit several dozen homes, which neighborhood leaders hope instills community pride and helps usher in a neighborhood renaissance.
"Everybody deserves a nice neighborhood, safe neighborhood, beautiful neighborhood,” Blue Ridge Neighborhood Association President Julie Boye said. “The more that we can clean this up and improve the quality around here, I think that the better that we'll feel as a whole and be able to raise each other up.”
For individual homeowners, it simply reels like an answered prayer.
"I'd be thanking God, because I've been praying for a long time for help,” Howe said. “Maybe it's just the thing I need, just something to make me better.”
The grants are only available to homeowners and only can be used for exterior projects — such as windows, siding, painting, and concrete work among other things.
City officials will make the final determinations on which houses get the money for a makeover and hope to start funding renovation projects next month.
Homeowners interested in applying for a grant can call 816-513-3200. The program runs through November 2020 or until funding runs out.