A lack of contractor interest leads to five Reed City homeowners not receiving thousands of dollars to fix homes

This home on Upton Street in Reed City is one of the five that will, as of a Nov. 13, not be receiving any of a promised portion of $25,000 to have the exteriors fixed up.

REED CITY — Five homeowners were promised thousands of dollars to help repair their Reed City homes but now they will not see a penny of it.

At the Monday, Nov. 18 Reed City council meeting, council members were informed that the city’s $25,000 Michigan State Housing Development Authority grant would not be able to be utilized as no contractors had been found to complete the projects.

“Contractors came out to each of the sites. The majority of them were very interested in helping the city,‘ said Reed City Manager Ron Howell. “It was when they heard the projects needed to be done by December and saw the amount of work that needed to be done on some of the homes that they said there was just not enough time with the amount of work they already had lined up or funds to finish the projects.‘

The council chose five out of 12 applicants in July to receive $5,000 for repairs to the exterior of their homes. This covered anything from painting the exterior of a home to a new roof. The homeowners were notified recently that the repairs were not happening.

Teresa Rose Woitel said she cried when she received the news.

“When I got that letter, I don’t normally cry, but I went to my room and cried,‘ she said. “(...) I cried not just for myself but for all the others, as well.‘

With a fixed income, Woitel said, though she loves her home and wants it to be a place for her autistic daughter to be able to stay after Woitel and her husband pass, she has not been able to fix it up as she would like to.

“I am proud of my home,‘ she said. “But being on a fixed income, there is not much I can really afford to do. This grant was really going to make a difference for me and my family.‘

Woitel said she and the other four who were chosen for this grant do not blame the council for what happened.

“We in no way blame the council,‘ Woitel said. “They have done all they could to get this to happen. It really, to me, seems like it came down to the contractors just not stepping up to the plate.‘

But both Bailey and Howell said Reed City is not the only grant recipient who has run into this contractor issue.

The city of Evart, a recipient of a $30,000 round four MSHDA grant, had to apply for an extension to be able to potentially secure contractors for its four projects, Evart City Manager Sarah Dvoracek said. In doing this, however, Evart will not be able to apply for MSHDA’s round five of this home improvement grant.

“I had wanted to get more houses done next year,‘ said Dvoracek, “but I wanted to make sure those who were already selected got what was promised to them. If MSHDA does a round six, we will most definitely be applying for that.‘

Though Reed City was under the impression they may have been able to apply for an extension on the stage four grant, Bailey said he did not think it would be in the best interest of those receiving the grant money.

“Though that option may have been out there, no, I don’t think it would be in the best interest for the homeowners to do that,‘ he said. “With applying for the next round, more money will be available for the projects and we will have a better chance of getting contractors interested because of those extra funds.‘

The city will be applying for round five of the MSHDA grant and reopening the application process with the intention of receiving $30,000 and giving each homeowner a budget of $7,500 to work with. Though, this time around only four Reed City residents will get chosen rather than five.

“With going down to four homes, we can offer the maximum amount to each homeowner and get more done,‘ said Howell.

Woitel said she and the other four who were selected to receive the original grant plan on applying for this new round.

“Yeah it sucks to not be able to help,‘ said Bailey, “but our intention was not to fail. We wanted to help those five people out. (...) Now that we have more knowledge about what projects are going to cost, I think (the council) can make more informed decisions on what projects will be able to get done. Yeah, we made mistakes but we are not just giving up. We are learning and moving forward.‘

Cadillac News