By SARAH JOHNSON
The Town of Plainville wants its residents to know about a special program designed to boost property value and safety. The Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program and programs similar to it have been offered in Plainville since the 1980s, and it is possible because of a grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development, or DECD.
Eligible homeowners receive a zero percent, interest-deferred loan from the town. It’s important to remember that this is not a grant, and even with no interest, it must be repaid upon a homeowner selling their property, refinancing or passing away and settling their estate.
Low- to moderate-income homeowners can use the loan to repair or improve things in their home that would be energy-efficient or prevent deterioration. Most commonly, these repairs would be siding, windows, roofing, furnaces or boilers or even handicap-accessible modifications.
Lisa Metayer has been the executive assistant to the Town Manager since 2003 and has been the program coordinator for the Rehab Loan program since 2006. “People should keep in mind that these loans are not for luxury or cosmetic changes,” Lisa explained. “They are for those catastrophic or expensive things that make people say ‘where will I come up with the money for this?’ A good example would be someone who needs a septic tank repaired. That’s thousands of dollars but nothing compared to the cost if it actually ruptures.”
Metayer said she feels that the biggest plus from the loan program is that it keeps down blight and improves the neighborhoods where people take advantage of it. “Everyone wants their home to look good,” she said. “When a homeowner is safe and happy, it helps the neighborhood and town.”
One story of the pro- gram being a huge help happened when Metayer first began as coordinator. “One woman needed work done on her home and found out her roof was damaged and leaking,” she said. “The other repairs couldn’t be done without fixing the roof or the water damage would make it all worthless. She qualified for the program and was able to get it all taken care of.”
As far as qualifications go, first and foremost, a homeowner must be income eligible. The guidelines for income come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. There are different scales of income allowed depending on how many people are in the home. The home must be owned and not rented. If it is a co-owned property, all people on the deed must sign the loan application. All taxes on the home must be current and there needs to be some positive equity in the home. Also, all health, building and safety codes must be current and not in violation. The town of Plainville becomes a financial interest on the loan, so it works almost like a mini-mortgage.
“Because of the zero percent interest, whatever I paid for the repairs is the exact same from day one to repayment,” Lisa said. “There is no additional hardship if a homeowner qualifies and takes a loan with this program. We all want to believe our homes will gain equity. This program makes that so much easier than doing it out-of-pocket.”
For more information on the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program, you can call Lisa Metayer at (860) 793-0221, extension 205 or visit the town manager’s office, top level of the Municipal Center at 1 Central Square in Plainville.