A home rehabilitation program that provided loans to eligible county residents will provide grants as well, a county official said.
The new provisions for Imperial County’s Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program were approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
“This is a really good program,” said Esperanza Colio, Community and Economic Development manager, after the vote of approval.
The new guidelines will allow the program to assist homeowners in rehabilitating their home through a combination of loans and grants, according to a report to the board.
For instance, if a home rehabilitation were to cost more than the house’s value, only the home value will be a loan “and the rest is free money,” Colio said.
Homeowners in the Poe Colonia, Niland, Bombay Beach, Winterhaven and east of Heber who earn less than 80 percent of the median income are eligible, said Colio.
This Community Development Block Grant program isn’t new for the county, as it has been in place since 1996.
But the guidelines needed to change, Colio said, because dire economic conditions made clients hesitant to participate in a loan program, even when loans had no interest attached and repayable over 20 years.
There is about $2 million available “and we (will) not be able to move forward without combining loans and grants,” she said.
Though in support of the concept, Supervisor Gary Wyatt seemed reluctant to agree with the program’s provisions.
Some families can’t afford another payment, Wyatt said. The targeted population already has difficulty to stay in their homes as it is without a loan, he said.
“If we want to help (this) group of people, with very low income, then we need to grant them money,” he said. Otherwise Wyatt sees “no chance” of the program working.
Supervisors Jack Terrazas and John Renison echoed Wyatt’s sentiment and both asked if the state was considering allowing for full grants to be part of the program.
The state, which allowed for the new guidelines to take place after touring the county, is considering further amending the program, Colio responded.
Colio expects a response in about a month.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445.
Here are four things that came out of Tuesday’s Board meeting:
1 - A change order for the Cole Road improvement project was approved by the board and awarded to Hazard Construction Co. under consent agenda. Compensation was increased by about $300,000 because of “unanticipated changes in soil field conditions and in material quantity adjustments,” according to a report to the board. No fiscal impact is expected as Local Transportation Funds will be reimbursed to the county.
2 - Funding applications for 26 road projects and the purchase of a water truck for dust mitigation at the county solid waste sites will be submitted to the Imperial County Transportation Commission. The projects’ costs exceed ICTC’s $7.3 million available funding, but if there are any remaining funds it will be easier to allocate funds to the projects already reviewed.
3 - Imperial County was selected to participate in California Home Visiting Program, a five-year initiative designed to improve maternal and child health.
4 - Letters of invitation for the commissioning ceremony for EnergySource’s geothermal facility were signed by the board and forwarded to Governor Jerry Brown and senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Hudson Ranch I will be commissioned on May 18.
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