HAMBURG, Pa. -

Some local property owners, struggling to make ends meet, are getting the chance to fix up their homes.

A $200,000 check was presented to Our Town Foundation in Hamburg, Berks Co., on Monday.

The grant comes from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh's Affordable Housing Program. It will allow 15 property owners the chance to fix up their homes.

"We're trying to make sure properties do not become blighted, trying to make sure people can stay in their homes," said U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Berks Co./Lehigh Valley. "It's a win for the community. It's a win for everybody."

Dent helped present the check that represents 50% of a housing rehabilitation project. The other half came from the Redevelopment Authority of Berks County.

The idea is to assist low- to moderate-income homeowners clean up and improve their properties.

Fifteen property owners in the borough have already been interviewed for the assistance. Many of them are senior citizens living on a fixed income who otherwise would not be able to make improvements to their home, officials said.

That's the situation Shirley Wilhelm has found herself in.

"I sent the paperwork in. They can only say no," said Wilhelm, who has lived in her Hamburg home for almost 17 years and applied for the assistance to help replace her leaking roof and cracked sidewalk. "When it comes to a large project that you need like to fix the roof, the money just isn't there anymore."

Now, the project could help people like Wilhelm and the entire community.

"If there is still funding available after those 15 are rehabbed, then we'll go and interview additional candidates," said Deena Kershner, executive director of Our Town Foundation.

"We have to be proactive and not wait for problems to get out of hand before we address them," said Dent.