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Resident receives misguided information regarding grant funding to fix home

BY: Kimberly Snickles, Cheektowaga Source | January 24, 2013

A local resident was visibly upset at Tuesday’s town board meeting as he stood up and explained that he had received false information regarding grant funding to fix his home.

Andrew Lipinoga of 112 Ridge Park Avenue, Cheektowaga has owned his home for over a year. He updated the hazardous electrical system, repaired a portion of his roof, and unfortunately he now has to replace his heating system, an expense that Lipinoga really cannot afford. This matter brought him to the Office for Housing and Rehabilitation to seek help, where he stated he was told he was eligible for a 60 percent grant and a 40 percent loan because his street was considered a “target area” in need of repairs.

Lipinoga stated he then met with the town inspector who explained that he would be eligible for grant money. In reviewing the application Lipinoga was a bit confused on the process and returned to the office for clarification on receiving the grant funds. He said he was relieved when he was told that he was definitely eligible to obtain 60 percent of the grant funds.

On Jan. 8, Lipinoga received a letter stating that he had been approved for funding, yet the letter spoke nothing of grant funds. Lipinoga said he then had a meeting with Dale Parks, Code Enforcer of the Town of Cheektowaga where he was told that the issue would be looked into and received confirmation that he was still eligible for the grant. Lipinoga stated they then met again the following day when Parks took photos and notes to get the information she needed for the contract.

“After she was all done she turned to me and said, and I quote, “By the way, you are not eligible for the grant fund,” said Lipinoga. “Baffled by this I asked to why, which she stated, “We had a meeting last night after I got off the phone with you the director decided that we are not going to be using any grant money for this emergency project.”

Carla Kosmerl, Town of Cheektowaga’s Director of Community Development was present at the meeting and stated that what Lipinoga was approved for was a 1.5 percent emergency loan, which he would have to pay back.

“Some of the ascertains that Mr. Lipinoga has made are certainly correct, he is in a targeted area,” said Kosmerl. “He also has applied for the grant and loan program and is currently on the waiting list for that program and he is eligible to wait until his turn comes up. In the meantime because he has expressed an emergency situation in his house, we have offered him an emergency loan.”

Kosmerl further stated that Lipinoga is on the bottom of the list, which consists of around 300 residents who are also waiting for funds, but why was Lipinoga told otherwise? This is what Kosmerl and the town board is aiming to find out.

“We should clarify that the individuals who have indicated this to you and I’m not sure that they have because I have not spoken to them personally but they are not the people who make that decision,” said Kosmerl.

Kosmerl and the town board both stated they would be getting to the bottom of the miscommunication. Supervisor Mary Holtz held a meeting with Lipionoga on Wednesday, Jan. 23, to further discuss the matter.

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