Low-interest loans OK’d to fix older homes

By Laurie Hamame - lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com

<p style="text-align: right;">Burgess


Owners of older homes in Oberlin can now qualify for low-interest loans to cover rehabilitation and maintenance costs through the Heritage Home Program.

A city council vote Nov. 6 allows Northwest Bank to provide equity loans for the preservation and restoration of houses 50 years old or older. They must also be zoned as residential and contain three or fewer units.

Most interior and exterior projects may be funded with the loan, including kitchen remodeling, basement waterproofing, roof repair, window replacement, and masonry work. Projects ineligible for loan funding include vinyl siding and windows, decks, patios, swimming pools, bulky building additions, and installation of landscaping features.

Two fixed-interest rates are offered — one for low- to moderate-income homeowners and one for homeowners above moderate income.

The city is paying $200,000 to buy down the bank’s interest rate by three percent, taking it from 5.37 percent to 2.375 for low- to moderate-income homeowners. The interest rate for all other homeowners will be a special promotional rate set by Northwest.

Using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the bank defines moderate income as less than 80 percent of area median income and low income as less than 50 percent. According to HUD, an average family of four makes $54,000.

Homeowners can also receive free advice on home improvement and repair issues, input on energy efficiency methods, contractor resources, and evaluation of contractor bids and estimates.

The cost for the city to participate in the program is $3,900 per year, or $2.73 per eligible house, which was included in the department of planning and development’s budget for 2018.

The program sets a minimum loan amount of $3,000, but the bank negotiated a $10,000 loan requirement.

That higher loan amount turned councilman Bryan Burgess away from voting yes on emergency passage.

“Ten thousand dollars is more than a furnace installation costs,” he said. “That’s more than a hot water installation will cost. So for a family that needs a new furnace, they can’t take advantage of this program or they would have to bundle the furnace upgrade with some other upgrade in the house in order to meet that $10,000 requirement. I don’t know that it’s the right thing for us to do to push people into taking a larger loan just so that they can qualify and get a new furnace.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated that councilman Bryan Burgess voted no on the issue when he voted no on its emergency passage. We apologize for the error.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.




By Laurie Hamame