Tupelo Code Enforcement: City provides grants to help homeowners

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

This is part 3 in a weekly series featuring tips from the Tupelo Development Services Department on maintaining and improving properties. Previous stories featured swimming pools and home businesses/occupations.

By Emily Le Coz
Daily Journal
TUPELO – Some low-income Tupelo homeowners can get up to $5,000 for needed property improvements through a program administered by the city’s Development Services Department.
The Special Needs Assistance Program – called SNAP – provides dozens of grants each year that have helped residents repair roofs, replace windows, fix plumbing, install air conditioning, treat for termites, and give their homes a fresh coat of exterior paint.
“As long as it’s improving the house – and it has to be an emergency need – then that’s what it’s for,” said city code-enforcement officer Lynda Ford.
Some homeowners apply for the grants on their own, but many are referred by city code-enforcement officers after they write people up for violations.
“Some of the code violators say they can’t afford to do what’s needed, and we’ll recommended the grant,” Ford said. “We’ve done a number of houses that were code violations.”
Tupelo has issued approximately 150 grants in the past four years alone. Thirty-eight of them were awarded this year.
Grant funding comes from the Federal Homeland Bank, which donates a percentage of its profits to the SNAP program and distributes it among five states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and New Mexico.
Tupelo got $300,000 last year and $190,000 this year.
Mississippi won’t get its next allocation until January, but the city already is accepting applications. Ford said she will go through applications between September and December, picking the next round of grantees.
To be eligible, residents must live in Tupelo, have a family income of 80 percent or less of the median household income for Lee County, and have occupants who are either elderly, mentally or physically handicapped, recovering from physical, alcohol or drug abuse, or have HIV/AIDS.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com