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ReHouse Bay pauses taking new applications

Brudnicki community members Sheila.jpg
Valerie Crowder
Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki (left) and Sheila Ware, the city's deputy director of community development, and community members tour one of the new steel panel homes in Glenwood on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. The home is an example of the affordable housing some homeowners were able to purchase with the help of ReHouse Bay grant funding.

Bay County's first-time homebuyer assistance program ReHouse Bay has stopped taking new applicants — for now.

County leaders say they're seeking more state dollars to continue to the program after using up nearly $9.7 million allocated after Hurricane Michael. “ReHouse Bay has been so successful," said Bay County Deputy County Manager Joel Schubert in a press release. “We’re going to ask the board to appropriate funds from other, less utilized programs to help serve the folks who have completed applications but have not yet received an approval letter.”

Grants awarded through the program help lower mortgage payments and up-front costs. Eligible applicants could've received up to $75,000.

Applicants who've received award letters, along with those who are eligible and have already applied, will get assistance. New applicants will be put on a waitlist.

Eighty-eight new homeowners have received assistance through the program. Another 70 applicants have received an award letter, but haven't yet closed on their homes.

ReHouse Bay plans to ask the county commission to approve $9.5 million for 120 applicants who haven't received an award letter.

The county plans to use its State Housing Initiative Partnership Program (SHIP) allotment and seek additional state dollars to continue funding the program for those who've not yet applied.

“That the county has been able to serve so many people in such a short amount of time is a remarkable accomplishment," Schubert said. And by the time the program is finished, to have helped some 278 low-income households become first-time homeowners.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.