Moran’s growth may lead to housing needs

ONAWAY An Onaway-area employer is adding jobs and looking to do more in the near future, creating a potential housing crunch.

Northeast Michigan Affordable Housing is looking to fix the situation by applying for targeted grants to help qualifying homeowners or home buyers in the Onaway area, NEMAH CEO Al West said. The organization will apply for about $300,000 to begin with for programs to either develop new housing or rehabilitate existing homes.

Qualified home buyers could take advantage of a program to help them get needed repairs, NEMAH Housing Director Michelle LaBar said. Those who have a mortgage through a traditional lender can get up to $35,000 worth of repairs done, and pay it off over 10 years on a forgivable second mortgage.

“For this area, especially with the high unemployment we have, it’s really nice to be able to help someone have a home they’re able to stay in and is safe,” she said.

NEMAH also could use grant money to develop new housing if a family is looking for one, West said. The interested buyer would likely need to qualify for a bigger loan than if they were buying an existing home.

To qualify, household income must be 80 percent of the area median income or less, LaBar said. This ranges from $29,200 for a household of one to $55,050 for a household of eight. For the home buyers program, there’s a minimum requirement of 40 percent of the area median income, West said.

NEMAH may get additional funds for homeowner rehabilitation, where those who qualify can get repairs made to improve the quality of a house, West said.

These standards are determined by standards set by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and are strictly for quality improvements, LaBar said.

While Moran Iron Works’ growing work force has created a need for housing, the grants would be for anyone living in the targeted area who qualifies, regardless of their employer, LaBar said.

The grant application should be in to the Michigan State Housing Development Authoritywithin a matter of weeks, West said. From there, it could take five months before the programs get underway if the application is approved. MSHDA is paying more attention to the situation, as there’s a local employer bringing jobs to the area.

“That’s what is creating this effort,” he said. “It’s a multi-prong approach of community development and industry development.”

MSHDA could require grants to go to properties within the Onaway city limits, West said, although this remains to be seen.

“Typically, they like it where it’s inside city limits where there’s water and sewer,” he said.

If approved, the money would come from Home Investment Partnerships Program funds, money that MSHDA gets from HUD, West said.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.