$500K in energy-efficient home improvement grants available to Cass County residents


Thanks to a grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Association, Cass County residents may be eligible for financial assistance to improve their homes.

MSHDA announced Monday that Cass County’s Land Bank Authority was awarded $500,000 in the second phase of the Michigan Housing Opportunities Promoting Energy Efficiency (MI-HOPE) program. The funds will allow the Land Bank to assist approximately 20 Cass County homeowners in making energy-efficient upgrades to their homes.

The MI-HOPE program is the latest in the Cass County Land Bank’s efforts to assist homeowners in Cass County. Modeled after the state land bank authority, the Cass County group exists to improve the local economy by facilitating productive reuse of land or enhancing current properties.

“Since their inception, land banks have played a critical role in moving properties to productive reuse and supporting a wide range of community and economic development activities,” said Hope Anderson, Cass County Treasurer and Land Bank Authority Chair. “The Cass County Land Bank is actively pursuing opportunities to bring those benefits to our community.”

The Village of Cassopolis was awarded MI-HOPE funds in the first round of funding last fall and has since seen success in helping homeowners with the program. Cassopolis Village Manager Emilie LaGrow serves on Cass County’s Land Bank Authority, and, knowing the positive impact of the program, assisted the County in applying for round two funding. In the second round, the City of Dowagiac was also awarded a $300,000 grant. Because two Cass County communities were also awarded funding, Cass County’s grant dollars will be allocated to homes outside the Village of Cass and City of Dowagiac.

“More than 70 percent of Cass County homes were built before 1990,” Anderson said. “Our focus is rehabbing aging housing stock, assisting elderly residents to age in place, veterans in need of energy-efficiency improvements and making home repairs possible for residents on a fixed income. The competitive housing market has made rehabilitation of existing homes more important than ever.”

MI-HOPE serves households meeting specific qualifications in upgrading roofs, exterior doors, windows, insulation, heating, ventilation and cooling systems, water heaters, lighting, appliances and wiring.

In addition to the $500,000 awarded by MSHDA, Midwest Energy and Communications pledged an additional $10,000 to the efforts for MEC customers, bringing the grand total of funding dollars to $510,000.

“Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) is proud to support the Cass County Land Bank Authority’s effort to help residents improve their home’s efficiency,” said Bob Hance, MEC President and CEO. “We know firsthand the impact that such improvements can make, and this grant will help homeowners complete projects that would have otherwise not been possible,”

Those interested in applying should visit arp.michigan.gov/p/home.

– Submitted