Malissa Buzan

Malissa Buzan, director, Gila County Community Services Department.

The Gila County Board of Supervisors Feb. 2 approved several agreements to bring $183,482 into the county’s community services department. They designated the money to help with utilities and weatherization.

The first was an agreement between the Arizona Department of Housing and the Gila County Community Services Department, Housing Services, to provide Southwest Gas Corporation Weatherization Assistance Program funding in the amount of $18,490. It will provide weatherization services to eligible citizens living in Gila County for the period of Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021.

The second agreement was for Energy Wise Low-Income Weatherization Program Implementation between the Gila County Community Services Department, Housing Services, and Arizona Public Service Company. The agreement allocates $90,000 for calendar year Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021.

The final agreement was between Gila County and the Arizona Department of Housing. It allows the county to receive Community Development Block Grant funds in the amount of $74,542 for the period of Jan. 15, 2021 through March 15, 2022, in order to rehabilitate at least five eligible homes.

Malissa Buzan, director of Gila County Community Services, said the funds, leveraged with other funds her department has access to can only accommodate about 12% of the people needing assistance. She said Community Services has a two-year waiting list of county residents needing weatherization and home rehabilitation assistance.

Much of the utility assistance offered by the Community Services Department is a function of the Gila County Community Action Program, which it oversees.

The Gila County Community Action Program has been in existence since 1980. The service area includes all of Gila County. CAP receives funding from the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Pinal Gila Council for Senior Citizens, Arizona Department of Housing, and many other funding sources. The funding is geared toward helping residents become more self-sufficient. The goal is to provide the best services through case management and emergency assistance, with minimum cost to Gila County.

Community Action Program Services include utility payment/deposit assistance, eviction prevention, rent assistance, utility discount programs with APS and Southwest Gas.

Applicants must meet Federal Poverty Income Guidelines and have a documented need for assistance.

The weatherization and home rehabilitation programs are a function of the Gila County Community Services Housing Division.

Weatherization

The purpose of the Weatherization Assistance Program is to make the homes of low-income Gila County residents healthier, safer, and more comfortable and energy efficient. This program operates through various funding sources. The Arizona Department of Commerce/Energy Office provides the base funding support for the programs. Other funding sources include: ADES/Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Arizona Public Service Company, Arizona Department of Housing/Housing Trust Fund, Southwest Gas Corporation, PGCSC Older Americans Act, and Freeport McMoran.

Rehabilitation and Limited Home Repairs

Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation provides services to rehabilitate homes to improve the health, safety, and energy efficiency of the home and increasing the comfort of the homeowner(s).

To be eligible for this program, the applicant must meet Gila County, Arizona State Housing Fund Income Guidelines; the home must be located within Gila County; the home and land must be owned by applicant; the Title Report to the home/property must be in applicant’s name; the applicant must reside in the home for at least 12 months prior to receiving rehab services.

The services provided by OOHR require a lien on the home/property for a period of up to 15 years (a deferred payment loan is forgiven gradually throughout the deferral period).

Utility Repair, Replacement and Deposit Assistance

The Community Services Department can assist property owners with minor emergency repairs to their homes through Arizona Community Action. Examples of limited home repairs for health and safety issues include repairs to: heating and cooling systems, water heaters, gas piping, roofing, plumbing, and electrical.

To take part, the applicant must own and occupy the home/property as a primary residence all year long; the applicant must meet the State Housing Fund Guidelines; the mortgage payments, property taxes and homeowners’ insurance payments must be current at the time of application for services.

To learn more about the Gila County Community Services Department and its program call 928-474-7192 in Payson or 928-425-7631 in Globe.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

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