New county loan program aims to help homeowners maintain property
A new countywide program offered to homeowners hopes to help address Grand County’s housing needs by supporting the maintenance of existing properties.
Earlier this fall, Grand County received a $185,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to offer county residents loans to repair their homes through a program called Community Development Block Grants.
The county also moved $65,000 from another housing fund that hadn’t been utilized into this program to total $250,000.
“With our limited housing stock, I believe this program will allow us to be able to preserve the housing stock that we have,” said Sheena Darland, housing manager for Grand County. “It’s really hard to build affordable housing, … so I think it’s important to preserve the housing we have and keep people in their homes as long as we can.”
The program, which will be available starting January 2020, offers deferred loans at 0% interest for up to $24,999 for house repairs or rehabilitation on county residents’ primary homes.
Darland explained that the funds are designated for homeowners making 80% of area median income or less. Grand County’s area median income for a family of four is $78,500, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In order for the funds to have the most impact in the community, they are able to be combined with other types of assistance and loan recipients don’t make payments, but instead repay the loan when the house is sold.
Since the loans are needs-based, Darland noted the program won’t be funding kitchen remodels or other cosmetic updates, but rather the money will go to infrastructural updates.
“The funds are for anything they need to make their house a more safe, sanitary, decent place to live,” she said. “If they need a new furnace, if they have lead-based paint and need that remediated or if they have mold … anything that will help bring their house back up to safe living conditions.”
Not only will applicants need to meet income requirements, but a walk-through and home inspection are part of the process to ensure the money is going to projects that actually affect the safety or wellbeing of the residents.
“They may come in and say I need $10,000 for a new roof, but we want to make sure we’re bringing these homes up to the safest living condition we can,” Darland said. “So, we’re going to inspect the home and make sure there’s no mold or maybe they have insulation that’s wet from the roof leaking for so many years and then we would work with them to … get the house more liveable.”
Darland said the program doesn’t restrict applicants by requiring them to work with certain contractors, but instead allows the flexibility to find affordable and local options to complete the project work.
Though the funds won’t be available until the beginning of the new year, Darland said she has already received inquiries about the program and has a list of three people interested in applying as soon as they can.
“For a program that really hasn’t been launched yet, I think to have three people already wanting applications is a good indicator that this is needed,” she said.
If the program is successful and the county is able to loan out all $250,000, then Darland said the county will be able to reapply for the program next year. This year, Grand is one of just 33 counties to offer the program.
Interested residents should contact the Grand County Housing Authority to apply or for more information.
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