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WARREN City wants to help with home programs



Published: Sun, August 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Households must be low to moderate income to qualify for most programs.

By AMANDA C. DAVIS

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Improving the city's housing stock is being made easier through programs that give homeowners and renters more options.

The city is looking to promote programs more aggressively so residents can buy their first home or rejuvenate the dwellings they have.

Under the programs, federal money is available for single-family home rehabilitation, rental rehabilitation, exterior painting and down payments for home ownership.

Households must be low to moderate income to qualify for most programs.

Mayor Hank Angelo said little was done with housing initiatives before his administration.

Since he took office in 1996, he said, 105 homes have been built, more than 40 have been rehabilitated and many are being painted this year.

"This is a way for us to improve housing in Warren," he said, "but it's not a giveaway program."

Federal money: The city receives federal housing money that can't be used for anything else.

Warren's housing program is funded strictly with that money, not the general fund.

David Robison, director of engineering and acting director of community development, said that if poorer families can't afford to buy homes, it would make sense that they won't be able to upgrade dwellings on their own or pay off a loan.

That's why the city will forgive the housing loans it approves, as long as participants meet all requirements. This is the first year that loans will be offered with the premise they may be forgiven. For more information, an application or to make an appointment, call 841-2595.

A single-family home rehabilitation program makes available deferred loans, up to $25,000 for five to 10 years.

Loan is forgiven: The loan is forgiven if participants meet all requirements of an agreement, which include bringing the house up to code and occupying the property for a certain number of years after rehabilitation is complete.

A rental rehabilitation match program provides low-interest, deferred loans to rental property owners to match money being used to rehabilitate substandard units for poorer tenants.

Work estimated to exceed $75,000 will not be accepted. The loan will be forgiven if all requirements are met.

The painting program offers grants to eligible owners of single-family homes to help with paint and labor. Remediation of lead based paint is included in the grant.

An ownership program lends money to prospective homeowners for down payments. Participants must be income-eligible.

Under the program, $7,500 is available for homes in low-income areas, and those in other areas can receive up to $5,000. Local financial institutions determine applicant eligibility, Robison said.

Housing codes must be met and buyers must live in the house for a certain amount of time for the loan to be forgiven.

Meeting: Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-6th, had a neighborhood meeting in her ward last week to discuss housing programs.

She is one member of council's community development committee, along with chairman Dan Polivka, D-at-large, and Ron White, D-4th.

Rucker said the committee has worked to make changes to the program with safety-service director Fred Harris and Kevin Kralj, who was community development director before leaving the city for another job.

davis@vindy.com




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