WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) – More than 200 rental property owners in Jefferson County have applied for a grant of up to $10,000 for repairs. Only 50 of these requests have been accepted.

It’s a simple matter of supply and demand, says the Jefferson County Economic Development Agency, which hopes to secure a round of funding.

The Deferred Maintenance Grant gives Jefferson County landlords up to $10,000 to make repairs to rental units where tenants have not paid rent during the pandemic eviction moratorium.

Officials knew the money would go fast. In fact, it disappeared almost overnight.

“It went extremely fast. We got it out about the end of last week. When I arrived Monday morning, we had over 50 applications,” said Marshall Weir, assistant general manager, Jefferson County Economic Development.

Fifty is the maximum number of people who can be helped, but Weir has about 200 applicants creating a waiting list.

“I was very surprised. I was happy because we had such a good reaction to the grant, and that’s what it’s for. But I was surprised it happened so quickly. It really shows the need for this particular, you know, these owners need help,” he said.

On the waiting list: Bill Bonner, owner of a handful of properties in Watertown. By the time he heard about the grant money, it was too late.

“The fact that me funding opened on Monday and by Monday afternoon I was already on a waiting list just illustrates that it’s not just me. They are other landlords in the city who failed to pay rent and beyond that saw their property destroyed,” he said.

We could see why Bonner applied for the grant. His Mundy Street property is covered in broken windows, holes in the walls and graffiti. The damage, he said, was damaged when a tenant failed to pay rent during the pandemic and was unable to evict them.

Bonner renovated the apartment to be brand new just 2.5 years ago.

“If I get a grant and enjoy the program, hopefully I’ll get off the waiting list. I will see what I can do to bring this duplex back to livable living standards,” he said.

Meanwhile, the JCED will try to secure another round of funding in the belief that improving homes in the area is also good for what it does.

“It is important for economic development. Even something as small as putting a roof over someone’s house and making our community as nice and welcoming as possible is economic development,” Weir said.

It will be up to the county legislature to decide whether more funds will be given to the economic development group to help homeowners who have found themselves in trouble.

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