DURAND — The city has received $20,000 from the state of Michigan to help residents increase the curb appeal of their neighborhoods.
Thursday, Durand officials accepted an oversize check from a representative of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The funds will be used to provide 12 micro-grants of $1,500 to applying residents with plans to make visible improvements on their properties.
“We’re very excited that MSHDA saw so much merit in our projects,” Durand City Manager Colleen O’Toole said after the check presentation. “We know residents in Durand want to improve their homes and take pride in their neighborhoods, and this will help.”
Examples of acceptable projects for MSHDA’s Neighborhood Enhancement Program (NEP) are handicap ramps, new windows or front porch repairs or replacements. So far, seven Durand residents have requested applications for micro-grants, O’Toole said.
“We’ve had good feedback from folks who are interested in it,” she said.
Funds can also be used to enhance the appearance of city parks or directional signs, but at least 50 percent must be earmarked for residential improvements.
The micro-grants are aimed at homeowners who might otherwise be cited for blight, O’Toole said. Instead, they receive an incentive to beautify their property.
Durand is setting its sights on fixing up the southern portion of the city first, she said.
All projects must be completed by Dec. 31. Expenses over and beyond the $1,500 micro-grant must be borne by the homeowner, O’Toole said.
“The program is designed to provide assistance for high impact and quick-turn projects to help communities statewide,” said Angela Shipp, the MSHDA housing specialist and department analyst who presented the check Thursday.
“The projects selected for grants are highly visible, housing-oriented opportunities that will improve the quality of life for people living in these communities.”
Durand Mayor Deb Doyle said: “It’s so nice to be able to help people out, especially ones who wouldn’t be able to do the projects otherwise.”
Shipp said MSHDA is distributing $1.4 million in NEP allotments across the state this year.
Since the program began in early 2016, more than 50 Michigan communities have received funds.
Durand was part of the fourth round of grants, which targeted rural municipalities, Shipp said. Recently, the village of Bancroft also received $20,000 in NEP funds, she said.
The fifth round of NEP grants, which opened Friday, is available to both city and rural municipalities, Shipp said.
The NEP program’s stated primary goals are to identify and fund innovative activities to address a neighborhood’s specific needs; assist and then showcase Michigan neighborhood(s) where people are engaged and facilitating change; and to provide funding to facilitate and implement activities.
For information, visit michigan.gov/mshda, click “neighborhood” and then “NEP program.”