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Duo Explains $300K Grant That Provides 0 Interest Loans to Homeowners

The program provides interest-free loans up to $25,000 to low-to-moderate income Waterford homeowners.

Thursday night, dozens of residents packed into Waterford Town Hall’s auditorium to hear about a new $300,000 grant program that provides homeowners with interest-free loans to make code and safety upgrades to their homes.

In the program, qualifying homeowners can receive up to a $25,000 interest-free loan to make upgrades to their homes, which they pay back when the title changes. The company Lisa Lowe and Associates will receive approximately $6,000 to manage each project, which the town will pay from the grant, according to Lisa Lowe of Lisa Lowe and Associates.

“The concept of this grant is to make sure your home is safe and sound,” Lowe said.

Residents can first submit applications for a loan on December 4th at 10 a.m. to the Waterford Senior Services. Approximately 60 Waterford residents took applications to apply for the program, with a total of nine being able to be served if all nine projects hit the $25,000 threshold.

How it Works

The $300,0000 grant is funded by the US Department of Housing and Development, administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and now is the responsibility of the Town of Waterford. Low-to-moderate-income Waterford residents can get up to a $25,000 interest-free loan to improve the health and safety of their home, or to bring it up to code, according to Adam Kinkel of Lisa Lowe and Associates LLC.

Kinkel said the goal is to get projects around $22,000, so there is some room if there are any change orders during construction. For each loan that is administered, Lisa Lowe and Associates will be paid approximately $6,000 to manage the project, which is paid out of the grant and not paid by the homeowner.

“You are receiving an experienced project manager on each of these jobs,” Kinkel told the audience. "That's something the average homeowner would not pay for on these types of jobs. It is an additional benefit."

Typical work the grant will pay for is lead-based paint hazards, electrical hazards, plumbing or heating issues, roofing and gutter repairs, deck and porch repairs and window and door repairs, among others, Kinkel said. The grant will not pay for new appliances, fixing a swimming pool, “excessive landscaping” or just outright remodeling, Kinkel said.

Homeowners must pay back the loans when the title changes, which can happen when the homeowner sells the house, the homeowner dies or the homeowner refinances, according to Lowe. A lien is put on the house until the interest-free loan is paid off, she said.

When the person pays back the loan, it goes back to the town, which can lend it out again. The lending will theoretically continue until the payments to the project managers uses up the entire $300,000.

“It becomes a revolving loan,” Lowe said.

Specifics

Only low-to-moderate income Waterford residents can qualify for the program. According to HUD specifics, a qualifying one-person household must make less than $45,500, two-person household must make less than $52,000, three-person household must make less than $58,500, four-person household must make less than $65,000 and on and on.

Along with the income requirements, the homeowner must be up-to-date on all taxes and have a certain amount of equity into their home. Then a homeowner can receive an application from the town’s website or at Waterford Senior Services and can first submit applications to Waterford Senior Services on December 4th at 10 a.m.

Applications will be reviewed in a first-come, first-serve basis. The applications will be reviewed, and if it is complete the house will be inspected and a list of everything that needs to be fixed will be compiled, with the hope that it will be around $22,000, Kinkel said.  

Generally, the contractor will have 30 days to complete the work, Kinkel said. Then, it will be up to the homeowner to pay back the loan when the title changes, he said.

For more information, call Lisa Lowe and Associates at 203-888-5624 or Waterford Senior Services at 860-444-5839.

Ron November 19, 2012 at 01:33 PM
It says the loan does not have to be paid back until the title changes (i.e it really does not have to be paid back) Isn't this what the Dodd-Franks housing bill did to collapse America, where nothing had to be paid until the title changed ( i.e. from the deliquent mortgage home owner to the foreclosure process) ?
Paul Petrone (Editor) November 19, 2012 at 01:44 PM
I believe that is why you need to have a certain amount of equity in the home to qualify. That way, the town knows if you do foreclose, there is still money in the home to collect after it is resold. They won't allow for people who are underwater on their mortgages to qualify for that exact reason, if they foreclosure the town will not get its money back.
Salem November 19, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Is it only for Seniors?
Paul Petrone (Editor) November 19, 2012 at 03:05 PM
No, it is for anyone who qualifies.
Just sayin' November 19, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I was reading the information provided on the town's website and it appears as if there are associated fees of up to $650. Assuming a $22,000 loan, this equates to almost 3% of the loan amount (which is about the going rate for a 15 year fixed rate mortgage these days). While the loan is interest-free, it doesn't appear to be cost-free. My other concern is that it appears as if the homeowner has no say in the selection of the contractor performing the work. Bidding goes out to a pre-selected pool of contractors and the job is awarded to the lowest bidder. What happens if there is a problem with the workmanship? Does the managing agency, whom I assume are the ones who have vetted the contractor pool, have any liability in that instance? I would be surprised if that were the case. I was not at the meeting so perhaps these issues were already addressed and someone who was in attendance could shed some light.

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