New home rehabilitation loan program hopes to help homeowners in Stonington | Stoneton

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STONINGTON — Low- and middle-income homeowners in the city have a new tool to help with property maintenance, and the city hopes the program will help keep residents in their homes and the community in the process help achieve affordable housing goals.

Stonington officials on Thursday launched the Housing Rehabilitation Program, a locally based revolving loan fund that will allow city dwellers to apply for and receive interest-free deferred loans or soft loans that can be repaid through a payment plan or upon sale of the borrower. refinance or transfer the property.

According to First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough, the program took 11 months to develop and is a concept officials have been discussing on various boards and commissions in recent years. She recognized employees, including Human Services and Director Leanne Theodore and Director of Economic and Community Development Susan Cullen, by assuming leadership roles alongside the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance.

“The purpose of this program is to truly help residents stay in the community and provide them with a way to improve their quality of life and possessions, even if they don’t have excess income to work with,” said Chesebrough. “We want people to be able to make repairs and help those who live here to stay here.”

The new program is one of several recommendations put forward last June as the city began conducting a housing affordability study and assessment to develop a long-term community plan. The recommendations, developed by Donald J. Poland, a consultant with East Hartford’s Goman + York Property Advisors, called for ways to make property maintenance more affordable and highlighted the need for such support in the community.

According to the study, an estimated 34.8% of all households and 46.6% of rental households in Stonington are cost-burdened, meaning more than 30% of their income is spent on housing.

The city was able to use $150,000 of Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds granted to Stonington for pandemic relief to set up the fund, which aims to meet the growing needs of low- and middle-income residents living with so facing high housing costs and may not otherwise be able to consider repairs or property improvements.

Theordore said in a press release that this program could serve not only to improve property values ​​across the community, but also to provide resources that actually reduce stress and improve residents’ well-being.

“Programs like this have the potential not only to address critical safety issues in a home, but also to significantly improve the physical and mental well-being of its residents,” she said. “We look forward to opening doors to repair opportunities that will allow residents to remain in their respective homes for many years to come.”

Those applying for credit under the program must complete an application, a process that requires background checks and financial verification. For those eligible, the loan requires a temporary restriction on the Affordable Housing Deed. This restriction allows the city to consider the property as affordable housing stock.

The loans may not exceed US$30,000 and can be used for a variety of proposed projects including energy efficiency and weathering; disabled accessibility; health and safety issues; facade improvements; rainwater improvements; septic and well repairs; heating, electrical or plumbing; chimney, roof and gutter repairs; eradication of rodents or insects; foundations or stair extensions; and environmental risk reduction.

Chesebrough said that in order to get a loan, an inspection is carried out to ensure there are no major health or safety risks that need to be addressed first.

“We need to make sure we only invest in ways that benefit the community and benefit taxpayers,” Chesebrough said. “If there is a serious health or safety risk, that must be addressed first or the city cannot consider the loan.”

The scheme is still fairly new, with the city not releasing information on its website at stonington-ct.gov until Thursday morning, and officials said it was important to put in order and monitor interest in the scheme in the coming months to ensure that the program delivers the intended benefits to all stakeholders, including taxpayers.

Should the city generate significant interest and end up with a waitlist, Chesebrough said officials would consider options to expand available funds, including reviewing state and federal grants or submitting detailed figures to the IRS for potential local funds if all else fails . She said the goal, however, is to make the program self-sustaining to minimize any concerns that taxpayers would be hit with a bill.

“I am very pleased that the program is starting,” said Chesebrough. “We are optimistic about the positive impact of this new program and its potential to be sustained over time.”

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