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Some homeowners in Linn County can benefit from a $400,000 state grant to the Linn County Home Repair Program.

The program, administered locally by Willamette Neighborhood Housing Services, won a community development block grant from the Oregon Department of Business and Consumer Services.

Ben Stiehl of Willamette Neighborhood Housing said the program is a unique intergovernmental partnership between a number of Linn County municipalities.

“We administer the funding for the group,” Stiehl said. “It includes almost all of Linn County except Albany and Waterloo.”

Stiehl said that Waterloo opted not to join the group although it is in negotiations to become a part next year. The city of Albany traditionally has partnered with another agency, Community Services Consortium, to offer a similar program.

The group, Linn County Housing Rehabilitation, applied for and was awarded the grant.

 Homeowners who live in eligible areas throughout the county and who qualify financially may receive grant money in the form of zero percent interest loans to improve their homes. To qualify, the homeowner must own and occupy a single-family home and have an income level at 80 percent or below the area median income.

“There are no specific requirements beyond that other than to meet basic health and safety requirements,” Stiehl said. “The money can go for all kinds of repairs.”

Stiehl said roofs, septic systems, heating systems, inside flooring, windows and energy efficiency upgrades are common repairs.

The agency works with homeowners to evaluate each home for needed repairs, assist in finding and securing a contractor and provide visual inspections of the work.

A prescreening form on the Willamette Neighborhood Housing website at that will help applicants as they apply. Stiehl said homeowners should follow links to the home ownership center and then the Linn County Home Repair Program.

Applicants must have some equity in their home, which Stiehl said can be a challenge in the current economy. He said seven homeowners have qualified to date and that about 15 or 16 are expected to receive the loans in the next year.

The loans will continue until the grant money is exhausted, Stiehl said, and he urged homeowners to apply earlier rather than later if they believe they may qualify.

The partnership of municipalities includes Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Scio, Sweet Home, Sodaville, Tangent and surrounding areas.

Additional information is available by calling 541-752-7220 or

1-800-403-0957, ext. 300 or by sending an email to

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Steve Lathrop is the business reporter for the Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6076 or by email at