Cassville senior housing to undergo renovation

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cassville Senior Citizens Rental Housing, Inc., has been selected to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Multi-Family Housing Preservation and Revitalization Program.

"This is a very good program that will allow us to update the facility," said Landon Fletcher, Cassville Senior Citizens Rental Housing, Inc., board president. "Some of the units are around 30 years old and have never had any renova-tions."

The program will allow the Cassville Senior Citizens Housing, Inc., Board of Trustees to make improvements and renovations to the housing units located on Townsend Street in Cassville.

"There was a notice of funding availability published in the Federal Register this past year and all rural development multi-family housing borrowers were invited to apply," said Steve Cheatum, USDA Rural Development area specialist. "Missouri had over 400 borrow-ers apply for this program, which was the most in the nation.

"We were pleased to have so many express an interest in this new demonstration program," said Cheatum. "Missouri ended up with 12 applications being approved during the 2006 fiscal year, which was third in the nation."

USDA reviewed each application before selecting the 12 Missouri facilities for the program. Items considered in the selection process included: loans that were obligated prior to October of 1991, and the financial standing of the project.

During the selection process USDA administrators also reviewed vacancy history, debt payment history, the reserve account balance, maintenance history, improvement needs and management.

"We considered local economic condition and rental housing demand in the area," said Cheatum. "For all these areas, Cassville Senior Citizens Housing, Inc., has been above average. However, due to the age of the project, updating is necessary in order to remain vital and competitive."

Through the Multi-Family Housing Preservation and Revitalization Program, the Cassville facility will be able to keep rent affordable and secure funding for future capital needs without increasing federal subsidies and the costs to the taxpayers, said Cheatum.

"The amount of debt being deferred, coupled with a low-interest loan, will enable the borrower to set aside funds to make improvements to the property while at the same time keeping the rents affordable for the elderly and disabled in the Cassville community," said Cheatum.

Renovations at the Cassville facility will be completed in several phases over the next 20 years. This year, improvements will focus on apartment bathrooms and windows in around 18 units, said Fletcher.

Construction crews plan to remove existing bathtubs and replacing them with new fiberglass showers that will include grab bars, a hand-held shower, a lever faucet and a fold down seat. Apartments will also receive new insulated vinyl tilt-out windows with screens.

It will take around 15 days to complete the renovations at each apartment. Work is scheduled to begin within the next two months and should be completed by December.

Board members hope that renovations can be completed in empty apartment units first. Tenants will then be allowed to utilize vacant apartments while improvements are being completed in their assigned unit.

If a tenant is asked to vacate their apartment for renovation work and a vacant apartment is not available, the tenant will receive adequate notification before construction begins at their unit.

Tenants will not be required to move all of their belongings from their apartment while renovation work is being completed. Tenants will also be allowed to visit their apartment on a daily basis during construction, said Fletcher.

Board members hope to close on the USDA low-interest loan sometime in February. The recommended loan amount is $90,747, said Cheatum.

"The loan is deferred for 20 years, becoming due and payable at maturity," said Cheatum. "Interest at 1 percent accrues during the 20-year period. In addition, all current loans are deferred for 20 years or until the date of maturity if sooner. Interest on the current loans accrues at 1 percent."

Darrell Ledenham serves as vice president of the Cassville Senior Citizens Housing, Inc., Board of Trustees. Other board members include: Fletcher, Herb Primrose, Mark Smith, Sue Stiles, Phyllis Baker, Ruby Reese, Bob Mitchell and Donna Hayes. Shirley Keen-Hutchinson is the manager of the Cassville facility.

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