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June 2018 

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PRESS RELEASES: Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments

Southeastern Utah Association of Governments press release
 Date of release:  11-27-18
 
 Stories of Grant Goodness
 
Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) has had wonderful success at receiving grants to help the community.  SEUALG works with city and state government agencies. Everyone employed at SEUALG writes grants and is actively looking for new recruits who are interested in grant writing to aid the communities. 
If interested in grant writing contact Lori Riley at SEUALG. Riley can provide technical support and answer questions on grants. In one year Riley has raised thousands of dollars to benefit the community.
 
 “To write a grant you have to tell your story,” says Riley. “You have to tell your story good enough that people want to give you money.”
 
A grant requires a lot of research. The writer has to know facts and percentages. Those facts and percentages need to be included in each proposal but it will never be awarded if they don’t also present the story behind it. The story is how those numbers affect the people and the betterment of the communities involved.
 
 Riley said the most interesting grant she has written was for Navajo Mountain. There was a problem with the pet population in that area. The pets were domesticated animals that the people couldn’t afford to take care of anymore so the animals had become feral and were running unchecked, scavenging for food and procreating, which fueled the problem even more. Riley subsequently wrote a grant to The Doris Day Foundation to try to get money to help the situation.
Lori at computer
Pictured: Lori Riley, SEUALG Grant Writer 
Riley’s primary realm for grant writing has been with the Southeast Utah Community Development Corporation (referred to at the CDC), which is a 501c3 or a non-profit organization. She states she has had the most success rate with grants targeted towards beautification and the monies awarded are distributed back to the communities through the CDC. 
 
Hundred of grants are written and hundreds are denied each year. The percentages of actually being awarded any one grant depends on many factors. 
Examples of some of the grants that have been awarded to the area include one for $10,000.00 from Dominion Energy to get funds to install a Veterans Memorial in Price. She also wrote a $1000 grant to Walmart for beautification on Main Street in Price. 
 The story here is, success for communities throughout southeastern Utah.
 
Granted.
 

Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments press release
Date of release:  10-15-18

HEAT program to come into full swing in November

The Home Energy Assistance Target Program (HEAT) will begin to take appointments for assistance starting November 1. The HEAT program is for those with low incomes who have a difficult time paying the cost of heating their homes during the winter months. Assistance is based on income (those that are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level) where the household is responsible for paying the homes energy costs and where the household contains at least one U.S. Citizen. Basically if someone makes less than $1518 per month, they generally will qualify for the program.

If for instance someone is making a little over the cap amount, and if they pay for prescriptions out of pocket, the cost of those prescriptions can be taken off the amount earned to qualify them for the program. That also applies to medical costs they pay for out of pocket. However this all requires the proper documentation from the prior month of their appointment and must be approved by the HEAT program administrators.

Those that wish to apply for the program can begin calling at 8:30 a.m. for appointments on November 1. For Carbon and San Juan counties the number is 435 613 0100. In Emery County the appointments will be taken at 435 881 5410. For appointments in Grand County call 435 259 6362.

All callers must speak to the receptionist to make appointments. Appointments cannot be made by leaving a message on voice mail.

A number of outreach efforts will also take place so that people do not have to travel as far to apply for assistance.

October 19. Navajo Mountain. Appointments will be made by the chapter house.

October 22. Castle Dale Senior Center, 10a.m. -12 p.m. First come, first serve.

October 24. East Carbon Senior Center, 9-11:30 a.m. First come, first served.

October 24. East Carbon City Hall, 1-3 p.m. First come, first served.

November 1. San Juan County Library in Blanding. Come first, first served.

November 8. Monticello Senior Center. Come first, first served.

November 14. Green River Epicenter. Come first, first served.

December 6. Monticello Senior Center. Come first, first served.

December 13. Blanding Senior Center. Come first, first served.

There will also be more outreach programs scheduled for Blanding and Monticello in January 2019 as needed.

For more information contact the HEAT program at 435 613 0100.

Why a stranger matters

Bread and Soup night, a series of evening events that happen each year in November at USU Eastern, is an important aspect of taking care of people in the local community. Here’s just one story that illustrates the importance of the contributions made at the events.

Lorianne Jones (not her real name) is a single woman that is 69 years old. She worked most of her life in low paying service jobs, raised three kids and was able to save literally nothing in her lifetime. In the last year she took on raising three of her grandchildren because her son went to prison and their mother disappeared into the drug world. Lorianne struggles to make ends meet; her social security is only $890 per month and she gets a total of $547 from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The rent on her small house is $400 per month. Her utilities amount to $200 per month. Those include electricity, gas and water.

Lorianne is a regular at her local food bank. She tries to get there each week in her old car and pick up food to help out. It used to be that she could get so much of what she needed, but things have changed. Now when she picks up once a week there is often only enough food for three or four days. With the food stamps she is able to make it stretch, but the nutrition her grand kids get is not adequate. They never get to eat much fresh fruit or vegetables. Meat costs so much at the store that she makes one pound of hamburger last three days.

Last month her car broke down and the local mechanic fixed it for her, but the cost was $500. He towed it in for free, but the parts amounted to over $400. He basically gave her the tow and his labor. He is also letting her make payments. He says he knows she will never be able to pay off the debt, but he feels sorry for her.

The above is not a far fetched story. It is a normal story for many elderly people. Even when they are not raising grandchildren, a single elderly person hardly has enough to eat if they are living on a fixed income. The disabled often have it worse. They have expenses that an abled person does not have, yet their income is no more.

In most cases, to those reading this, these people are strangers. They live in a different world than the reader does. But everyone should know that the percentage of people who struggle is high in Carbon County, and is increasing all the time.

As the population grows older the number of elderly people in the community is going up and many do not have 401Ks, savings or means other than social security for support. A trip to the doctor, or worse, the hospital, can wipe out anything they have been able to save. And as people get older, those kinds of things happen more often. For these people there is no eating out, no vacations or trips, not even cable television or internet.

It’s easy to dismiss those less fortunate than ourselves. They are invisible, unless one really looks for them. But at least one probably lives on your street. It’s also easy to look at them, if they are noticed and say “They made their own bed.”

Well maybe they did, and they also may have made your bed at one time when you stayed in that nice hotel across town. Or when they cooked your steak at that great birthday party you had for your son. Or when they filled the shelves and cashiered for you many times at the local convenience store.

But the past is the past…today is what counts and watching people, even complete strangers struggle, should not be easy even if your belly is full, you have a nice house to live in and drive a nice car.

This is why strangers matter.

While people donate a lot to causes in this country, the poor and disadvantaged are often left behind because people think that “someone, probably the government, will take care of them.”

In many cases your dog eats better than people on fixed incomes.

People in need can get help in various ways. For instance there is information about the SNAP food program from the Department of Workforce Services at https://jobs.utah.gov/customereducation/services/foodstamps/index.html.

But little things can also change the scenario that plagues Lorianne. She could get enough for her family to eat from week to week if the food bank had more resources. People really do donate to the food bank, particularly during the holidays. But those donations go out fast and in January when all the Christmas lights have come down the shelves get pretty thin. The summer is also a lean time despite food drives by the Boy Scouts, the United States Postal Service and many schools that help out. Donations are always needed.

By attending Bread and Soup night on the campus of USU Eastern in the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center each fall community members can help even more. They will eat and pay for bread and soup and the money they spend will go to the Carbon County Food Bank. It is a way to get dinner and have the money a person pays go to help these strangers. The food bank donation each year from the university that is generated by this event is key to putting food on the shelves of the pantry.

“When the scouts would knock on my door during a food drive, I had always been one of those people who simply ran to my pantry to pull out last year’s can of artichoke hearts from a failed recipe, or threw in my can of tomato soup just to participate,” said Carrie Icard who is an English professor at USU Eastern and also runs the Bread and Soup Night there. “I understand now, after 20 years of doing Bread ‘N Soup Night, that what’s going on in our community requires much more consideration than that. Because of what we’ve been doing at the university, I can feel that I made a greater effort to serve, but more importantly, also gave others a chance to do the same.”

This year those Bread and Soup nights will be on November 5th, 12th and 19th. The evening starts at 5:00 p.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. or when the soup is gone.

Bread and Soup night is not a pity party. It is an event to honor those that are not as fortunate as others, people who are important because they are part of our community and peoples lives everyday. They are the people, who in their time, did things for everyone else, so that others could have a good and happy life.

That is why strangers matter.

Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments press release

Date of release:10-09-18
Contact person: Richard Shaw, contract public relations specialist
Phone: 435 636 5343
Email: reddogpublish@gmail.com

CDBG training coming up on November 7

Each year some local government officials and those that work with non-profit agencies that wish to apply for grants from the Community Development Block Grant program must go through a training on how to apply for funds. This year that instruction will take place in Monticello on November 7 and in Price on November 8.

The CDBG Program provides annual grants on a formula basis to states, cities, and counties to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low– and moderate-income persons.

We have all kinds of officials attend this training including mayors, county officials, people from special service districts and from non-profit organizations,” said Jade Powell who is over the CDBG program for SEUALG. “I do have to remind people though that if they are from a special service district or from a non-profit they must be accompanied to the training with an official from their county or city.”

Attending the workshop is a prerequisite for applying for funds from the program, largely because each year the details and the parameters of application process change. Attendees receive a workbook that instructs them on policies and procedures when applying for the grants, which includes a checklist so no item required for the grant applications is omitted. The grant application process itself is done on-line.

One of the most important aspects of the workshop is so those that are applying understand the expectations of the grant,” said Powell. “The criteria for awarding the grant can be different from region to region. Our emphasis is more on housing while another area might be on such things as infrastructure. Those things can change so that is why they must attend the workshop every year.”

He said there are a great number of policies that have changed this year from last. There is a board that meets every year (people from the AOG’s region) and formulates the new rules for the grants. When grants are submitted they are evaluated by a point system depending on many factors and then are granted based on the scores.

He said that this year there is more emphasis on how many people a grant will help on a per capita basis that will give the grant the “biggest bang for the buck.”

For instance if a town wants to do a water line that is only going to benefit 10 people, while another town wants to redo an entire water tank which will benefit an entire town, the tank project will get more points,” he explained.

Powell said that while there is an invitation list already sent out to agencies SEUALG is aware of, there may be non-profits that want to attend as well.

The meetings in San Juan County will take place at the San Juan County Building conference room at 1 p.m. on November 7. In Price on November 8 the meeting will be held at the SEUALG offices board room at 9 a.m.

He said he will attempt to keep the meeting to one hour in length.

For more information contact Powell at 435-613-0022 or he can be emailed at jpowell@seualg.utah.gov.

Sara Calhoun rural summit speaker

SEUALG personnel find relevance Governors Rural Summit

Date of release: 08-27-18 Contact person: Richard Shaw, contract public relations specialist Phone: 435 636 5343 Email: reddogpublish@gmail.com

Members of the staff of the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments attended that Governors Rural Summit in Cedar City on August 2-3 and found themselves coming back with a wealth of information and ideas for the agency to use.

On Thursday morning the event began with a panel of people in general session talking about the Opioid problem in rural Utah. The panel talked about the problems and various kinds of solutions that are being used across the state. From the southeastern part of the state Debbie Marvedakis, who works with the Southeastern Utah Health Department spoke about measures that are being tried in Carbon County to combat the seemingly ever increasing problem.

Immediately after Doug Griffiths, the author of the book 13 Ways to Destroy Your Community presented the keynote address and spoke about how things are changing so rapidly and continually and he gave a good demonstration of how business and government must evolve to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and the changing business atmosphere in the world.

Later that day Governor Gary Herbert spoke about rural development and the ideas he has for moving the needle forward when it comes to growing economies in the areas outside the Wasatch Front. He also spent a good deal of time talking about something that all Utahns are familiar with this summer, wildfires and why they are seemingly becoming more frequent and intense each year. He made it plain that he felt that the management of the forests in the state has not been as good as it could be and he feels the state could do a better job if they were doing it rather than the federal government. Many states have state forest lands, but Utah is not one of those. All public forests in the state are national forests.

On Friday Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and his co-chair of the Utah Governor’s Rural Partnership Board spoke about various things that are going on in rural Utah and what the board does. They are a fairly large committee and help give direction for rural development and work with the Governors Office of Economic Development (GOED).

Also on the docket that day was Sarah Calhoun, who is the owner of Red Ants Pants, a Montana firm based in the small town of White Sulpher Springs, Montana. Originally from Connecticut, Calhoun went west after reading a book by a man who grew up in the town and founded the firm. Her company makes work wear for women, and as she put it “work wear that fits women.” Her company uses all American made materials and the clothing is made by Americans, some of them in her small town and other independent contractors spread across the country. She also started the Red Ants Pants Festival each summer in the small town which draws thousands of people to the berg of 600. A foundation she founded also supports rural communities, women in leadership roles and traditional work values. In 2011 she was named Montana Entrepreneur of the year.

Throughout the conference many workshops were also put on. Some of them included Engaging the Workforce of the Future, Addressing Rural Utah’s Housing Crisis, Rural Health care Priorities, Utah’s GIS Mapping and Technical Assistance Program, United States Department of Agriculture/Rural Development Tools and Resources, Natural Resource Issues Affecting Utah, the Rural Online Initiative, Growth from the Ground Up ( the Governors Office of Economic Development) and Wildfire Mitigation and Biomass Opportunities.

I believe strongly in Rural Utah,” said Geri Gamber the Executive Director of SEUALG. “The Rural Summit this year offered best practises in technology, Rural Online Initiative, GIS and many other pertinent ideas and processes that only enhance agencies success stories. We are all in this together, and the Rural Summit is about collaborative efforts. I had a plethora of ideas to take home and begin my own collaborative effort for Southeastern Utah.”

The cleanup at Hidden Valley was a team effort.
Kids in the Step Up program participate in a recital at the Price Civic Auditorium.
Kids help to clean up around public housing in Carbon County.
Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments PRESS RELEASE
 
Date of release:  08-06-18
Contact person:  Richard Shaw, contract public relations specialist
Phone: 435 636 5343
Email: reddogpublish@gmail.com
 
A number of movements are in action to help the economically disadvantaged and others in Carbon County
 
The Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) is working with others in the community to help those that are economically disadvantaged to get a better life in the Carbon County community.
 
First they are part of a group called the United Community Housing Alliance of Carbon County. To start the group has been focusing on the Hidden Valley Apartments behind Walmart.
 
“What we have been working on is beautification of the area,” said Renee Raso, a HEAT Specialist and Carbon County Circles Program Coach that works out of the AOG. “We want to clean the place up and till up the large field in front of the apartments and utilize it for a play area and a community garden with grow boxes on it.”
 
The effort is part of the Big View Team of Carbon County Circles, a program that is being administered to help mitigate intergenerational poverty in the county.
 
The housing authority has submitted a grant to improve the field. The submissions are being processed through Build it with KaBOOM!  That organization puts out grants to areas that need it based on their funding and if the grant is awarded the complex will have a Design Day in which users, including many kids, will get to design their dream playground.
 
While people from the community services area of the AOG are involved, it is a group effort of agencies, businesses and individuals making things happen. Obviously Gayla Presett, the Director of the housing authority is involved in the move. Also in the group is Cheryl Thayn and Kat Krum of United Way. 
 
Private businesses that are helping out include Kyle Heffernan from Sutherlands (whose store is donating $1500 for the grow boxes, soil and supplies). IntermountainFarmers is also involved with Doug Warden the Manager who will be donating soil and other items. The Kiwanis Club will also be donating $500 when as the project moves farther along.
 
But there is more here than just fixing sprinklers, tilling up soil, cleaning up the area and box farming. There is an effort to grow beneficial relationships as well. The Carbon County Sheriff’s Office is also involved in doing some foot patrols to get acquainted with the residents. The intention of that effort is to grow a good relationship with the peace officers in the area. They are also donating a grow box as well.
 
Polly Atwood from Juvenile Justice is also planning to do some classes on strengthening families.
 
Terry Johnson from the SUN Center at USU Eastern along with students who work with him are involved too. Every Saturday students from the University (through the SUN Center)  go to the complex and do sports activities with the kids there. They have also donated sports equipment to the Housing Authority that kids can check out and use. 
 
The housing authority is also considering applying for a grant for computers in the complex that students can use to do their homework. Those would be located in a room near the complexes administration office. 
 
United Way also sponsored a dance group this summer called Step Up so that kids could get into a program they could afford.  The fee was $10 and if they attended they got $5 back. Krum came up with the idea for the group, and had cheerleaders from Carbon High come and work with the kids. A recital with the kids was done late last month at the Price Civic Auditorium with the help of Terry Willis, a councilwoman in Price.  There are also many people that  donated costumes for the dancers. That program was for any low income families in the community, not just those from Hidden Valley.
 
On June 12 a group of volunteers went to the complex and did an outside cleanup around it. Many residents were involved, including a number of children. After the work was done there was a barbecue for those that participated.
 
“There were more kids than there were adults, but a lot of the people who live there work during the day so we expected that,” stated Raso. “We are going to set up another day like that in August and we will do it in the evening so more people can be involved.”
 
The group is in need of volunteers for the cleanup or for other kinds of activities that will be going on. 
 
“We want anyone who wants to come to help out and we have all kinds of things they can do to help,” said Raso
 
She said in time the goal is to work on the public housing grounds and facilities that is just off of Cedar Hills Drive as well. 
 
Another thing that has taken place to help those with economic challenges is that the AOG recently had a 14 passenger bus donated to the agency to use for community support. The bus came from Active ReEntry and formerly was a Utah Transit Authority transit van.
 
Geri Gamber, the Executive Director of SEUALG said that the new vehicle will open up all kinds of possibilities for those that have transportation challenges.
 
“What we would like to do is use it for youth who are living in county housing so they can get to activities, events and sports they want to participate in,” said Gamber. “We do have a few challenges to get it going so it isn’t ready quite yet.”
 
One of those challenges is funding a repair of the air conditioning on the bus and the other is coming up with money for insurance for it. Operating it will also cost some money, although Easter Seal is trying to step up to provide drivers for the vehicle.
 
“The good thing is that because it is under 15 passengers, a driver operating it does not have to have a CDL to drive it,” she said.
 
She pointed out there may also be some grant possibilities for funding drivers for the bus.
 
There have been some unique ideas put forth by various people about how to fund the operation. One is to sell advertising on the side of the bus, like UTA does. Another is to seek some funding from businesses that could use such a vehicle, such as retirement homes in the area, to help support the operation.
 
“We are seeking some community partners that could help us in providing money for the buses operation,” said Gamber. “Since there is no mass transit in the area this could solve part of that problem for those with limited resources.”
Circles makes the rounds in the county
 
Carbon County Circles, a program to help eliminate intergenerational poverty nationwide as well as in Carbon County, was introduced to two different groups of people last week, as Julie Rosier, the director of the program spoke and presented a video that showed how important it is for community members to get involved in the effort.
 
At the Carbon County Commission meeting on July 18, Rosier talked with the commission after they and those attending the meeting viewed a new video that featured former USU Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson and his wife Becky. The pair were instrumental in being allies in the program before the Petersen’s retired in June and moved to St. George. 
 
“Having people volunteer to be allies in the program is probably the most important aspect of what we are doing,” Rosier said. “Allies help those that want to rise above poverty by giving moral support, wisdom and a steady hand those involved can rely on.”
 
In the film the Petersen’s talked not only about the close relationship they developed with a couple they worked with, but how it rewarded them in ways they never expected. The six minute video is on line and can be viewed on the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments website at http://seualg.utah.gov/
 
Circles is part of the efforts that the CARE Coalition is pursuing and the commissioners then passed Resolution 2018-10 in support of the coalition. Jade Powell who works with SEUALG is the coordinator for the group and works with Rosier at the agency.
 
Then on Friday Rosier spoke at the Carbon County Chamber luncheon that took place at Castleview Hospital this month. She spent time describing to people who attended what it is like to be on the outside of things looking in because some people don’t have the soft skills that it requires to work in the middle class environment most workplaces are set in.
 
She said there are a lot of important factors to consider concerning people who live in intergenerational poverty, and not all of them are about money. The term she used when referring to many is that they have a lack of resources in many different areas, including the knowledge of what it takes to survive in an environment that is set around middle class language and rules. To many of the individual’s who come from intergenerational poverty, the rules of the workplace and society are hidden from them because of the environment they are accustomed to and were raised in.
 
At the end she asked how many people in the room are affected by poverty, and only a few raised their hand. She pointed out that poverty is everyones problem, because it impacts the community so profoundly in so many ways from higher taxes to stressed schools. People in poverty have to deal with so many challenges including fewer job opportunities, less chance for improving their educational outlook, higher rates of chemical dependency and many other factors. What many middle class people take for granted, people in poverty struggle for.
 
She asked that people in the group consider being allies to those that enter the program.
 
“The allies that work with our groups are the most important aspect of the program because they provide the support for the people that are trying to get out of their situation. We need good people to be allies for the program,” she concluded.
 
For those interested in learning more about the program and working to help others in need Rosier is available at 435 613 0065 or you can email her at jwalker@seualg.utah.gov
Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments press release

Date of release:  07-01-18

Contact person:  Richard Shaw, contract public relations specialist

Phone: 435 636 5343

Email: reddogpublish@gmail.com

SEUALG programs can help those that qualify with Housing Rehabilitation

The Southeastern Utah Association of Governments (SEUALG) offers a number of programs to help people repair their homes if they fall into certain categories of the population. Assistance can come in the form of loans or grants that can be used for replacement of things that are in poor condition and other sources of money are for emergency repairs that may be needed in a home.

First there is the Single Family Housing Rehab Program Loan. This loan is utilized for the improvement or repair of homes to provide decent safe and sanitary housing. The loan amount to do that has to fall within 95 percent of the value of the home. This loan fund is available in Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan counties. The AOG actually does around 23 of these types of projects each year. People who qualify for this loan are either elderly, disabled or low income families with children under 10. The interest on these loans is between 1-3 percent on a 20 year term note. Low income determination is based on an areas medium income (AMI). In terms of this loan a family can be at 80 percent of the AMI and qualify.

Under these same monies (the Olene Walker Loan Fund) there are also emergency grant funds, which can range up to $4,999.99 that can be awarded based on income. This money can be used for such things as a broken sewer or water line, or something that threatens the use of the home for those that live there. These emergency grant funds handled by the agency are not loans and do not need to be paid back.

SEUALG has a contract with the state to administer these programs. Some of the loans available can be leveraged with grants to cover the projects costs. For instance, another type of grant known as Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) fund can be used in that way. These funding sources can be utilized for the elderly, disabled or low income families who have children under 10. Households at 60 percent of the AMI or below may be eligible.

At SEUALG Barbara Fausett is the Self Help and Housing Rehab Program Manager and she supervises nearly a half dozen programs which can help people in various ways with their housing in the San Juan, Grand, Emery and Carbon county areas.

On a case by case basis, we can leverage a project with CBDG grant funds up to 80 percent of AMI,” explained Fausett. “That happens when we leverage 50-50 with the Olene Walker Loan funds. By doing that we can get funds for households with over a 60 percent AMI.”

There is also the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 504 Loan/Grants program for helping people with repairs on homes that they already own, as well. These funds come to the agency on a case by case basis and there is no set contract for the amount of money available to the agency each year. These monies come in the form of a grant that can range up to $7500. These loan/grants are for people 62 and older with an AMI of 60 percent or below. The program is prioritized on the basis of need. The money from the grant/loan is used for safety and sanitary purposes.

In any case work that is done with these loans and grants must be accomplished by a licensed and insured contractor. The agency has a list of approved contractors who do the work. Each approved job has at least two bids to ensure these funds are used efficiently so they can assist as many households as possible.

We screen the contractors to make sure they are licensed, insured and are stable businesses when they are doing the work,” she said. “And of course we try to make the money go as far as it can. We also try and get in and out of the home as quickly as possible. Usually a project takes one to two weeks, depending on the size and the scope of the work.”

Approximately one third of all lower income houses are substandard units. The objective of SEUALG’s housing program is to assist low income families, elderly and disabled homeowners with a safe, decent, affordable and accessible living environment.

Interested parties can go on-line to the SEUALG website at http://seualg.utah.gov/ and fill out an application. They can also contact Fausett at 435 613 0026 or email her at bfausett@seualg.utah.gov.

Home sweet home can be a reality for some with AOG programs

 
The path to owning a home for many people is strewn with obstacles. And even once one is in a home it can be a formidable task just to keep them maintained. This is particularly true if one has a low income, is disabled or elderly.
 
The Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments has many programs for people who either have homes that need repair or even a program for the purchase of a home for those individuals that have a hard time securing funding from traditional lenders.
 
At the AOG Barbara Fausett is the Self Help and Housing Program Manager and she supervises nearly a half dozen programs which can help people in various ways with their housing in the San Juan, Grand, Emery and Carbon county areas.
 
For those that want to buy a  house there is the Self Help Program. This is an acquisition/rehab program where the client buys a pre owned home and they fix it up themselves. 
 
“We try to get the bottom dollar on the purchase of the home so that when the client is done putting their effort into rehabing the property, they have some equity in it when they move in,” Fausett stated. “With the last 10 homes we have done with this program the average equity a homeowner had was about $15,000 after they were done fixing it up.”
 
The homes are purchased through a distressed sale, and often are foreclosures or estate sales where people who own it live out of the area and want to get rid of the property.
 
The loans for the home come through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and those that qualify do not have to put one dime down on the property. The AOG processes the loan package. These types of loans are not available at a bank. The income guidelines to qualify for these homes is different than for typical HUD loans. The people that are eligible for these homes need to have very low incomes. For example a family of four would qualify if they make under $54,150 per year. 
 
While these are fixer uppers, not all the work has to be done by the people buying it. For instance, if the buyer is not able to do electrical work that can be sub contracted out. However most people can replace a roof, replace siding or other things. But nothing is left to chance. Under this program, to be sure things are completed properly, there is an agency construction supervisor that oversees the work people are doing.
 
“He will estimate the materials for the project, then he buys and delivers all the products that will be used. He then trains the client in how to do the different phases of the project,” said Fausett. “The projects have to fall within a minimum cost of $15,000 and can range up to $50,000 in material costs.”
 
One important point is that the people who have purchased the house through this program cannot live in it until it is finished. 
 
“It takes a lot of work and we only do five of them a year,” she said. “Most people who buy these homes work full time and they have to work on the house as well. So it takes some real effort on their part. We do however try to get these projects done in three to four months. Typically we go in and do anything that needs doing. If the roof doesn’t have another 10 years of life in it, we replace it. So anything that might need work within the next 10 or 15 years will be remodeled.”
 
She said all areas of a home from the heating to the floors is open for possible remodeling in these kinds of homes. Fausett said that SEUALG actually piloted this program in Utah. 
 
“Some places have a program that works with new homes,” she said. “But this type of rehab program is a little trickier because no one knows what they are getting when we buy that house. These houses sometimes sit empty for a long time before purchase and who knows what kinds of problems they could have developed.”
 
To stave off problems like that a good inspection program by the building supervisor helps that situation. He also uses other experts in the construction field to look at homes before they are purchased. This protects the buyers, many of whom have never bought a home before or even worked on one. 
 
“This program provides the buyers with a good home. But they also gain skills they have learned in the process of repairing it. This leads to a true sense of satisfaction and self worth having done so much themselves,” she stated. “There are also a lot of little things built into this program to help them after they move in, including educational components concerning home ownership. Skills in budgeting and planning and maintenance of the home and other things are taught to them.”
 
Many of the homes that are purchased under this program involve single parent families. The purchasers can have volunteers to help them with the work, whether it be friends or family members. 
 
The USDA Self Help program is available from SEUALG only in Carbon and Emery County. 
 
Interested parties can go on-line to the SEUALG website at http://seualg.utah.gov/ and fill out an application. They can also contact Fausett at 435 613 0026 or email her at bfausett@seualg.utah.gov.
Intermark Steel is one recipient of an RLF loan that helped it to grow and thrive small.
Date of release:  05-20-18
Contact person: Richard Shaw, contract public relations specialist
Phone: 435 636 5343
 
Non-traditional business financing part of SEUALGs program
 
When someone starts or expands a business, sometimes their capacity to find financial resources is difficult. For those that are ready to do that and have been turned down by traditional financial institutions, the answer may be getting a loan from the Southeastern Utah Economic Development District (SEUEDD).
The RLF program was started in 1969 by the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments (SEUALG) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA). The program began when SEUALG secured a grant with matching money from the EDA to start the fund. 
Dawna Houskeeper, the Program Manager for the RLF said over the years money has been lent out and more often than not, been paid back in full with interest. The interest that has been paid from past loans has been used to grow the fund over time. The money available in the fund year after year differs since its balance depends on the status and amounts of previous loans. The two agencies work together, but all the qualifications, procedures and policies for lending are under the EDAs direction.
The fund is designed to help a business start or expand current businesses to grow. Over the years many different kinds of businesses have benefited from the program. A few examples include convenience stores, mortuary’s, monument builders, saddle tree builders, steel manufacturing, food trucks, and yurts.
“The qualifying businesses are unique and so is this loan program which was designed to help them,” explained Houskeeper.
One specific business that benefited is Loveless Ash in Price, or as it is now known, Dustless Technologies. The company started from an idea that was developed in Mike and Colleen Loveless’s garage around 30 years ago. After utilizing the loan program to start up many years ago, the company has since grown by leaps and bounds. Today they sell products all over the United States and even overseas.
Another more recent example is Intermark Steel, a company that is now located in the industrial park south of Price. Intermark’s Matt Blazer came to the agency for a loan to start up the business two years ago. The business manufactures specialty steel products such as railings and other fixtures that are often installed in large buildings that are being constructed or renovated. Intermark’s growth has been such in the last two years that Blazer was able to pay the loan off in March, thus releasing more funds for others to borrow if they are qualified.
One of the rules that apply when qualifying includes two documented previous denials from traditional banks or financial organizations.
Housekeeper said that that kind of situation is not unusual “because a lot of banks do not loan money for business start ups, as they feel it is too risky.” She added “In fact that is one of the reasons this program was started.”
Another condition; is that the loan recipient will add one new job to the area for each $25,000 borrowed. The business’s have two years to create the jobs. The structuring for the kinds of employment expected to be created is such that the positions are in low to medium salary compensation levels.
“This helps not only to finance new business and growth, but also helps stimulate the economy by adding jobs,” she said.
The loan is only available to business’s in the four counties SEUALG serves; Carbon, Emery, Grand and San Juan. 
The length of the life of the loan varies, because it depends on what the money is used for. A small loan for expansion may only require a year to be paid back. A larger loan that includes the purchase of real-estate may be longer. Depending on the loan type the longest approval term is 10 years.
The program is often confused with the Fast Track Grant program or other kinds of Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. SBA loans come through traditional lenders and the Fast Track Grant programs are state run, and are a grant program where businesses must match funds they are awarded. Businesses interested in that program must pre qualify and must spend the money first on what it wants the grant for and then the grant is awarded to offset some of the cost. These are not funding mechanisms handled by SEUEDD.  
Once applicants qualify for an RLF it then goes to the SEUEDD board for approval. That is a two to three month process. 
The bottom line of this unique program is that it qualifies loans for new business to start up or for existing businesses to grow. Going back to the list of kinds of businesses that have successfully borrowed money, such as Yurts installed out in the middle of the remote desert, may not be something that a bank is willing to risk investment on, but in that case the revolving loan fund did just that. Certainly those that have unique or unusual business ideas may have an opportunity to secure some financing through the RLF fund. 
For those that want more information about RLF loans, Houskeeper can be contacted at 435 613 0031 or at dhouskeeper@seualg.utah.gov.
Date of release:  04-26-18
Contact person:  Richard Shaw, contract public relations specialist
Phone: 435 636 5343
Email: reddogpublish@gmail.com
 
When opportunity knocks, communities will be willing to take it
 
The State of Utah recently submitted nominations to the federal government concerning an Opportunity Zone Program for various areas of the state. Southeastern Utah is prime to receive some of the help.
 
Last year, as Congress was working on the $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there was concern about saving important affordable housing and community development programs that the legislation might have had an effect on. But a provision included in the new legislation created a program that could give a meaningful shot in the arm to economically struggling communities, both rural and urban. It includes the creation of certain Opportunity Zones within states, and provides investors with new ways to make more money on their money.
 
To understand how the Opportunity Zone will work consider the fact that huge amounts of capital have been created and amassed with the large growth of investments and the stock market in the last few years. The new legislation will now make it much more profitable for private capital to be invested in areas that need a boost in their economy than it could have before. The amount of money that could be invested based on estimates tops over two trillion dollars in total. Consequently under the new Opportunity Zones that will be established investors can defer, possibly even reduce their federal tax liability on the sale of assets, once they are appreciated, if they put their money into an Opportunity Fund. The Opportunity Funds will then funnel all that pent up capital into investments in small businesses and real estate in communities and areas that are having hard economic times.
 
The good news for the area is that some of those Opportunity Zones are being created in the eastern and southeastern part of the state.
 
The Governor tasked all Association of Local Governments with the census tract selection.
 
 “This is an exciting program that will help attract new investors to the area,” said Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments Executive Director Geri Gamber last Monday. “There are zones that have been approved, which are spread throughout the four country region.” 
 
The Opportunity Zones program offers three tax benefits for investing in low-income communities through a qualified Opportunity Fund.
 
First, there is the temporary deferral of inclusion in taxable income for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The deferred gain must be recognized on the earlier of the date on which the opportunity zone investment is disposed of or December 31, 2026.
 
Second, there is a step-up in basis for capital gains reinvested in an Opportunity Fund. The basis is increased by 10 percent if the investment in the Opportunity Fund is held by the taxpayer for at least five years and by an additional five percent if held for at least seven years, thereby excluding up to 15 percent of the original gain from taxation.
 
And third, there is a permanent exclusion from taxable income of capital gains from the sale or exchange of an investment in an Opportunity Fund if the investment is held for at least 10 years. This exclusion only applies to gains accrued after an investment in an Opportunity Fund.
 
Within the submission, Utah had 181 census-designated areas that qualified. This means that based on the last census, areas were eligible because of depressed economic factors or areas of low economic means. Areas submitted and expected to be approved by federal officials in the eastern/southeastern area of Utah include the Ridge Road area of Carbon County, areas in San Juan County around Monticello and a designated area in the Navajo Nation.
 
“The contiguous track that we requested for Carbon County was unique and dissimilar among other tracks chosen in the State of Utah, in that it is found outside of the predesignated eligible areas for Opportunity Zones,” said Carbon County Commissioner Jake Mellor. “The Governor is only allowed to approve up to 5% of all tracks within Utah with this special contiguous designation and we were able to justify such a designation because of the many social and socio-economic needs our County has along with the many high-wage job opportunities that will exist along the Ridge Road Contiguous Track within Carbon County.”
 
Further details about when the program will begin and how it will be operated are still awaited by federal, state and local officials as well. It is expected information will be forthcoming soon.
 
 

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