Cold-damage assistance available for low-income homeowners

Argen Duncan

Dixey Evans has been without regular running water for seven-and-a-half weeks.

Since the below-zero temperatures in February burst the first pipe, she’s had one leak or broken pipe after another at her Clovis home. Evans said she ran out of money to pay plumbers without getting everything fixed, and she doesn’t have homeowner’s insurance.

“When you’re on Social Security, you can barely eat, much less afford insurance,” she said.

Now, she’s hoping to receive a portion of the state money Gov. Susana Martinez allotted to help homeowners without insurance repair damage from February’s severe cold spell.

The Eastern Plains Council of Governments is taking applications for the financial assistance through March 18.

Martinez authorized $1.1 million in emergency money to help low-income homeowners without insurance repair water lines, furnaces, water heaters, water damage to walls and ceilings, and other weather-related damage. The seven-county area, including Roosevelt and Curry counties, EPCOG serves has a $157,142 share.

The money can go to pay a licensed contractor for repairs or reimburse homeowners for repairs already made.

The funds come through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program.

EPCOG Interim Director Sandy Chancey said the program would provide up to $2,000 per eligible homeowner on a first-come, first-served basis.

Chancey wasn’t sure how long it would take for people to receive the money after applying, but she thought it wouldn’t be more than two weeks.

“This is something that’s never been done before,” she said.

People can apply at the EPCOG office in Clovis, and representatives are scheduled to visit Portales and other communities to help with applications.

Applicants must own and live in the home needing repairs and meet income requirements. Rental houses and those covered by insurance aren’t eligible.

Chancey said people interested should call EPCOG to see if their income falls within the boundaries.

“There’s a formula HUD sets forth for that,” she said, explaining the formula varies among counties and deals with family size.

Also, applicants must supply proof of home ownership, identification and annual income. If they’re seeking reimbursement, they also need receipts.

Chancey said the easiest way to prove home ownership is to bring the annual statement from the county tax assessor.

United Way of Eastern New Mexico Executive Director Erinn Burch said there aren’t many options for assistance with fixing weather damage outside the governor’s allocation. She encouraged people needing help to contact EPCOG but said United Way might also be able to give other referrals.

Fast facts

What: Assistance applying for weather-damage repair money

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday

Where: Portales City Hall

Information: Eastern Plains Council of Governments at 762-7714 or 418 N. Main St. in Clovis.