Ohio Homeowners Camp Out to Compete for Home Remodeling Funds

Laying ceramic floor tiles - man hands closeup
Would you camp out to save money on your home improvement costs?

That’s what several residents of Whitehall — a suburb of Columbus, OH — did at the end of May in order to be first in line at their city’s municipal building on Monday morning.

Homeowners like Renee Wallace vied for space on the sidewalk so they could apply for Whitehall’s Home Reinvestment Program on June 1.

The initiative offers funds to cover half the cost or up to $7,500 of homeowners’ exterior home remodeling projects. They can also receive up to 25% in the city’s limited funds to cover repairs to driveways.

The city has about $105,000 to give away to homeowners applying for the program.

Wallace, along with five other homeowners, camped out to make sure they wouldn’t miss the opportunity to apply.

Last year, Wallace had missed out on the program because she’d waited too long to apply to fix up her 100 year-old home. She and her best friend, Jennifer Deshong, stayed in a tent on the sidewalk to make sure Wallace would make it to the front of the line.

Wallace explained that her home needs new energy-efficient windows, which could cost
up to $23,000 to replace along with her siding.

More homeowners are swapping out their residential windows and doors for more energy efficient models. Changing single-pane windows to Energy Star certified ones can save homeowners anywhere from $126 to 465 per year on their heating and cooling bills.

Earlier this year, the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University predicted that, although the economy is taking time to bounce back from the recession, home improvement spending could reach new highs in 2015.

spending on home improvement this year is expected to reach an estimated $325.5 billion, according to Fitch Ratings; that would beat out the $324 billion record set in 2007 before the housing market took a dive.

But with potentially high costs for remodeling, homeowners like Wallace are looking to save any way that they can.

Applicants to Whitehall’s program have some qualifications to meet before they have access to the city’s funds. They can’t make more than $125,000 per year, which is a requirement most city residents already meet, and they also must provide photos of the work needed along with a written estimate.

If approved, they have one year to make the improvements on their homes, which will be inspected by the city. Only after that will homeowners receive their reimbursement checks.

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