Federal grant money helps Seminole County residents with emergency repairs



SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Seminole County has a new program to fix leaky roofs, as well as make simple repairs to residents' electrical system or air-conditioning unit with federal tax dollars.

Channel 9's Bianca Castro looked into the program to find whether it's the best use of your tax money.

Resident Gloria Hoffpauir said her street floods when it rains, and it's most likely caused by drainage issues.

The issue is one that can be fixed with community development block grant money the county gets from the federal government.

Typically, the money is used for big projects that impact entire neighborhoods -- projects like fixing streets, adding street lights for safety or building community parks.

But the county is setting aside nearly a quarter-million dollars of the money for a handful of people who need immediate fixes on their roofing, plumbing, electrical or air-conditioning units.

"How is this the best use of this kind of money?" asked Castro.

"Well, CDBG money has been used for the past, since 1974, for housing rehab, assisting one household at a time," said Buddy Balagia of Community Development Services. "We do that for people who are in dire need, their roofs are leaking, their house is getting worse and worse."

County officials said low-income families can apply for up to $15,000 in emergency repair work.

If the county doesn't pay for it, officials said, the families would be forced out.

While none of the money has been set aside for repairs for Hoffpauir, she said she doesn't mind it helping those who might need it more.

"If somebody else has a problem like I have, with my roof caving in on my bed, I would rather see them be helped," she said.

The county has helped about 30 people in the past year with similar kinds of emergency repairs.