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Help available in Portage to fix septic systems

By MATTHEW MERCHANT | RECORD-COURIER REPORTER Published: March 1, 2017 1:00 AM

Residents of Portage County with failing or malfunctioning septic systems can now apply for help under a limited countywide program.

The Portage County Combined General Health District recently received $300,000 in funding from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's Water Pollution Control Loan Fund for the program. That fund targets defunct household septic and sewage treatment systems.

"This applies only to residential properties, not commercial," said Mary Helen Smith, director of environmental health. "If the sanitary sewer is the problem, we can assist. If it's a malfunctioning septic system, we can assist."

It is a first-come, first-serve program based upon the receipt of application and supporting documentation that will be able to serve roughly 15 to 20 eligible households, possibly more depending on the amount of aid needed.

"We want to help as many people with this money as we can," said Health Commissioner Joseph Diorio.

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The department will consider all households after the application process is completed and an inspection of the property is done, Smith said.

The health department is hoping to partner with Neighborhood Development Services for the application process and income verification process, Smith added.

Ohio EPA's WPCLF is a principle forgiveness loan, not a grant, the department stresses. Eligible residents can apply for the funding and, if approved, would be eligible for financial assistance to make repairs or replace their systems. Eligible homeowners would receive assistance in paying for the repair or replacement, not a complete free-ride.

Smith said the program aims to assist low-to-moderate income homeowners determined by a three-tier system which is based on all incomes in the home, not income to debt ratio. Homeowners are eligible for either 100, 85 or 50 percent funding depending on where he or she falls on the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines.

For example, one-to-four person households at or below 100 percent of the poverty guideline -- making $24,250 -- would be eligible for 100 percent funding. Other qualifying poverty scales are available at the health department.

Full applications include proof of homeowner's insurance, current pay stubs for those 18 years of age and older, current SSI, disability, retirement or pension, three months of assets and investments, including checking and savings accounts, and other sources of income. For those self-employed, income tax returns are required.

Email: mmerchant@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4156


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