Loans aid in repair of homes


MIRAMAR--Five or more Miramar residents could be receiving about $25,000 apiece in loans to repair their homes, courtesy of federal funds.

Miramar is one of 10 Broward County cities where homeowners will receive such funds through the HOME Consortium, which is administered by the county through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


The money, according to city documents, would be used for major home repairs such as correcting code violations.

"The cities provide the county with referrals, and the county processes the applications, first-come, first-served," said Suzanne Fejes, assistant director of Broward's Community Development Division.

The other Broward areas to receive funds are Davie, Pembroke Pines, Sunrise, Margate, Tamarac, Lauderhill, Coral Springs, Plantation and Deerfield Beach, Fejes said.

Miramar is working with county officials to spend its share -- $136,627 -- from this past fiscal year, and during the next fiscal year will receive an additional $170,000 through the same program, Fejes said.

Miramar already has a waiting list for the funds, according to Gus Zambrano, the city's economic development and revitalization manager.

Miramar and the other participating Broward areas formed a consortium in 2002 and, as a result, the county will receive about $2 million in additional federal housing funds each year for the next three years, records show.

To choose eligible homeowners, the city is working with its consultant, Community Redevelopment Associates of Florida Inc.

Selection is based on homes with the "greatest need," and the program will supplement the city's rehabilitation program, Zambrano said.

"Homeowners will typically be the elderly and/or those who have special needs and/or low income with serious housing needs," he said.

Projects would include electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning and roof work.

The HOME program offers deferred payment loans at a rate of 0 percent, city records show.

The documents state that the loans are for a five-year period, but 20 percent of the loan balance is forgiven at that time so long as the homeowner does not sell, rent or transfer the property.

Congress created the HOME program in 1990 as part of the National Affordable Housing Act. The program distributes $1 billion to $1.5 billion a year throughout the country.

Locally, Broward's part will be to verify homeowners' incomes; inspect the homes; select contractors; review the project with the residents; process and record the loans; inspect progress; oversee the work; and handle payments to the contractor.

Miramar and other cities provide the list of applicants and also help contractors expedite work permits, according to records.

"I believe construction should begin by this summer, as the applicants have to be contacted and qualified, the [work] specifications prepared, and contractor selected," Zambrano said.


(source) Sun Sentinel (Jodie Needle) 1-05-05