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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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The Supreme Court rules funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is okay, election deniers hold key voting oversight positions in swing states, and North Carolina lawmakers vote to ban people from wearing masks in public.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Local Governments Work to Address West Virginia’s Housing Crisis

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Thursday, April 27, 2023   

In Parkersburg, West Virginia local government officials have an innovative plan to address the region's housing crisis - getting 50 families into better housing within 50 weeks.

Aging communities in rural areas are losing younger residents, and older residents tend to own their homes - around 70% in Wood County.

That's left a gap in available quality rental housing, said Parkersburg City Council Member Wendy Tuck - which shrinks access to subsidized housing units and pushes more families into homelessness.

She said the town's recent workshops to address housing needs have drawn more than two hundred concerned residents.

"From homeless vets to a contractor that wants to build to 24 unit apartment," said Tuck. "So I would say it was pretty successful. And we're already up to about 30 homes or people situations that have been improved."

A West Virginia Housing Development Fund report from 2019 already confirmed that many renters in Wood County living in old, substandard, and unaffordable housing. More than 250 units lacked complete indoor plumbing or kitchens.

Tuck added that while the city does have housing resources, including a program offering grants up to $15,000 toward a home-buying downpayment, many residents either aren't aware of the help or get discouraged right at the beginning.

"Not everybody's gonna qualify for that," said Tuck. "And what we've seen happen is people will apply, and they get no, you don't qualify for a loan, and then that just slams the door. Well, by working with some of our local realtors and credit unions and banks, we're able to partner so that it doesn't become a no, it becomes build up your credit score first."

This week the National Rural Housing Coalition and other groups sent a letter to Congress calling for increased federal funding for rural housing and water-sewer programs.

Federal rural housing programs support around a half million units of affordable rental housing nationwide.





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