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Better Housing for Tompkins County is dedicated to increasing sustainable, secure and affordable housing options for rural residents in our county.

Better Housing’s Home Repair crew made Groton residents Elton and Alice Nielsen’s bathroom more accessible by replacing the traditional bathtub with a new walk-in shower equipped with grab bars.
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Better Housing for Tompkins County is the only organization devoted solely to addressing the housing needs of rural Tompkins County. Since 1981 we have assisted low-to-moderate-income county residents living outside the City of Ithaca through our first-time homebuyer program and various home repair programs. We also manage 121 affordable apartments throughout the county for seniors and people with disabilities.

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The Tompkins County Homeownership Program provides eligible households within Tompkins County with up to $30,000 in down payment and closing costs toward the purchase of their first home. Since 1993, this program has helped more than 350 low-to-moderate-income families and individuals purchase the places they now call home.

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The Tompkins County Home Repair Program provides small repairs, typically under $5,000, to senior homeowners and homeowners with disabilities of any age. Better Housing provides the expertise and labor free of charge, and the homeowner typically covers the cost of materials. Occasionally Better Housing is able to identify additional sources of funding to help cover the costs of materials as well. Health and safety issues are given the highest priority and the program does not address cosmetic home improvements.

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Better Housing has been highly successful in securing significant grant funding to administer Housing Rehabilitation Programs throughout Tompkins County. Low-to-moderate-income homeowners receive assistance for a variety of repairs to keep their homes safe, habitable, and/or energy efficient. Some examples of typical rehab include installation of new septic systems, wells and roofs; addressing electrical and plumbing issues; remediating environmental hazards; and creating more energy efficient homes.

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Better Housing manages a total of 121 apartments located throughout the county. Juniper Manor, Juniper Manor II and 83-85 Main Street are located in the quaint village of Trumansburg. Fountain Manor is in the Caroline countryside, and Newfield Garden Apartments is nestled in the center of Newfield. Based on income, all rents are affordably priced, and handicapped accessible units are available.

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The Tompkins County Planning Office has documented a growing need for affordable local housing options. While many of Better Housing’s activities focus on repairing and rehabilitating houses in the county, we also pursue opportunities to construct new housing to help meet the need. Better Housing has partnered with for-profit developers in recent years to create over 225 new affordable apartments in Tompkins County and has renovated and upgraded an additional 125 senior apartments.