A grant-funded effort to help 14 local homeowners with much-needed repairs is the latest project to feel the pains of a congested construction market.

The city's Board of Works this week awarded contracts for work on just six of the 14 homes.

Board members opened bids on the 14 individual home projects two weeks ago, and even though four contractors initially expressed interest, only two submitted actual bids for the work.

Five houses were left off altogether, and Jenny Dearwester with Southern Indiana Development Commission, Loogootee, said three others must be rebid for various reasons.

It's been a rather interesting process, she said.

SIDC, the grant administrator for Vincennes' award from the state's Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program, said they will look to start the bidding process all over again in an effort to secure a contractor for those eight homes.

They'll put together another bidders list, hold yet another pre-bid meeting and hope the second time around proves more successful.

“I'd say the first of the year is a realistic timeline,” Dearwester said of when they hope to open that second round of bids.

In addition to the five homes that didn't receive bids — Dearwester doesn't yet know why they were ignored by the two bidders — another one needs to be rebid per state historic preservation guidelines.

The initial bid for that home, one in the city's Historic District at 804 N. Fifth St., included the replacement of wooden windows with vinyl ones.

The state, she said, is mandating that they rebid and seek at least three alternate options as vinyl windows in Historic Districts are often frowned upon.

The city's own Historic Review Board earlier this month, however, approved the vinyl window option.

Another bid on a single home had to be rejected, Dearwester explained, because the homeowners want to make repairs on a larger scale and are willing to chip in some of their own money to do it.

But until they make clear exactly what additional repairs and for how much, the city can't proceed with awarding a contract.

And lastly, one bid was simply too high and must be rebid, Dearwester said.

The two bidders during the last round were K&K Construction in Montgomery and Brock Anderson Construction in Linton.

Among the six contracts awarded by the city this week, K&K won the repairs on two homes for just under $62,000; Brock Anderson will repair four homes for approximately $86,000.

Dearwester said it's likely to be the end of the year — or early in 2020 — before any actual work begins.

Brock Anderson, she explained, is working to finish up repairs associated with another Owner-Occupied grant awarded in another community. Those repairs aren't likely to wrap up, she said, until December.

K&K is trying to finish up projects “not related to our program,” Dearwester said.

Over the last several years, the state's Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program has pumped nearly $900,000 into Vincennes to help families in need fix up their homes; this most recent award was for $350,000.

Eligible applicants are selected prior to the grant award, and per the grant guidelines, the city has until Aug. 28, 2020, to spend the money.

Repairs can include pretty much anything — new energy-efficient roofs, windows, doors, insulation, heating and air, electrical, etc. — but priority, as part of the application process, was given to repairs that affect the overall health of the applicant.

Applicants also had to meet certain criteria, with the elderly, low-income, single-parents and households with children under the age of 6 finding favor.

And a new target group — veterans — was added this year as well.

Applicants must also live inside the city limits, reside in the home, be up-to-date on property taxes, and they must carry insurance on the structure, among other criteria.

Vincennes received its first Owner-Occupied grant, a sum of $125,000, back in 2009. In 2014, it received another $400,000.

So far, nearly 30 local homeowners have benefited from the money.

Also as part of this most recent round, Bicknell, Oaktown and Monroe City each received $275,000, enough to fix up about a dozen homes respectively.

The grant includes required matches from the individual communities; Vincennes' match this time around is the largest at $40,000.

Dearwester said SIDC is currently working on applications for more Owner-Occupied funds, this time in Daviess County. It's unlikely that SIDC will apply for more money on Vincennes' behalf until these 14 projects are done.
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