County program helps families warm homes

INDEPENDENCE -- The insulation was so thin in Aaron and Bianca Wendt's Polk County home, they could see their breath in the bedroom in the winter, the couple told the Independence City Council Nov. 12



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INDEPENDENCE -- The insulation was so thin in Aaron and Bianca Wendt's Polk County home, they could see their breath in the bedroom in the winter, the couple told the Independence City Council Nov. 12.

The Wendts are cold no more.

Today, the parents of three small children, ages 4 to 7, who once huddled around a single electric wall heater in a two-bedroom house, are toasty and warm anywhere in the home.

Thanks to a county-wide housing rehabilitation program for which Independence is the fiscal manager this year, the Wendts were able to get loans and grants for insulation and an extra bedroom. Justin Wolf, the program's loan officer, and Diane Cvitanovich, of the Polk Community Development Corporation, came to the council's Nov. 12 meeting to report on the program that makes safety and emergency loans to low-income clients in Polk County.

Repaid loans go into a revolving fund to be loaned over and over again. The program is 19 years old and each year a different city or the county manages funds. This year, 20 loans have assisted 60 people, Cvitanovich told the council.

Everyone wins, according to Dallas contractor Dennis Wynia, who applauded the program because the construction also puts local people to work.

Mayor John McArdle said these were the stories that the council want to hear. "The kids are happier and they're warmer. Thanks for sharing this."

For more information about the program, call Polk CDC, 503-831-3188.

In other business Nov. 12, the council approved an $82,000 economic development loan to Olsen Design and Development to purchase a home at 116 S. Second St. The company plans to remodel it for commercial retail space and the loan will finance 30 percent of the purchase price and renovations for the business building.

Eric Olsen is the largest shareholder of the company that also developed the Edwards Addition in Monmouth. Plans for the property include renting commercial space on the first floor and creating living space on the second floor. There are also plans to construct other buildings on the property in the future.

The city's economic development loan fund is a revolving loan fund from which local businesses may borrow. A brochure about the fund is available at city hall, or by calling City Manager Greg Ellis, 503-838-1212.



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