Free $30K Loan to Fix Up The House
By Dianne Anderson
Nothing beats a loan that you never have to pay back.
Probably one of the harder tasks for Kathy Baker Brann in the coming months will be giving away a cool $30,000 to homeowners that need help fixing up their properties.
The main qualification is the homeowner must be low income.
Through the City Owner-Occupied Residential Rehabilitation Program, the silent second mortgage loan drops away, and after ten years, it totally disappears. Or, if the owner decides to sell the house, the silent second will decrease prorated, and the loan could be paid through profits on the sale.
“Ultimately, it’s forgiven. The good news is that you don’t have to pay any payments on it,” said Brann, director of Economic and Housing Development at the City of San Bernardino.
The program recently started, and as far as she’s concerned, the more accessing services, the merrier.
“If we could get a block or two of neighbors that want to do rehab on their property, that would be huge because we would be really making an impact to a particular neighborhood,” she said.
She’d like to see San Bernardino looking a little more like Oceanside, minus the ocean. The city is about the same size, and at one time, it had many similar challenges – the gangs, barred buildings, barred liquor stores.
She remembers what it took to bring that city up from the trenches. There, she led redevelopment for eight years, and said mostly what it needed was a little extra love, negotiating, organizing, and lots of paint.
Brann, also came over from San Bernardino County, where she spearheaded several programs, including a Bloomington development of 70 senior units, and a 6,500 square foot library for the county.
She has been at the city of San Bernardino since September, and is now trying to reach the low-income community with helpful housing programs.
“Sometimes people are leery of government in general and everything that the city has gone through. It sounds like free money, and they think that can’t be true,” she said.
The terms are a deferred payment loan for ten years with the interest rate at zero percent. Starting at year six, the loan starts dropping off at 20 percent. In ten years, it’s completely forgiven.
Those with code violations may find it hard to come up with money to make repairs, and the loan could be a great help. She said a lot of older homes don’t have air conditioning. For low-income families, a roof repair at $5-10,000 damage could be devastating. The loan is available for interior and exterior painting, plumbing, electrical, heating, hot water heaters, and other types of health and safety repairs.
The department is trying to drum up community awareness as a way to help clean up some of the neighborhoods.
“We have a decent amount of money for this program through federal funds,” she said.
The city is using outside HUD-approved nonprofit consultant Neighborhood Partnership Housing Services, which runs the program. Clients would submit applications to NPHSINC.org to verify income for whatever repairs are needed.
Broken and boarded up windows are citywide. She said fixing up the community also raises the bar for housing stock, and the city’s property owners. She said they want to help them have clean, safe homes to live in.
In the next two months, she is also rolling out a downpayment assistance program to increase homeownership, often the hardest part of any home buying experience. It usually runs $50-60,000 to get into a home without carrying Private Mortgage Insurance.
“We’re hoping to have $50-60,000 for downpayment assistance. That’s 20 percent that you don’t have to pay the PMI,” she said.
Another rehab is on the way. The city is looking to a commercial investment and facade enhancement for 40th street as the gateway to Lake Arrowhead and the mountains. Although not yet approved, they are also gearing up to move on the 6.5 acres, about 27 vacant properties on 5th Street between H and F streets, that the redevelopment agency had acquired over the years. They will be working with property owners to redevelop that area with a commercial facade.
“We want to show that the city is serious in investing in these areas so that property owners and businesses will invest as well,” she said.
She likes to take advantage of the opportunity where she can find it. She said a lot of developers are looking to rental subdivisions.
“I hit them up and say if you want to do something positive in the city, why don’t you send x-amount of paint and send people out and help us clean up an entire block.”
In Oceanside, she would target a two-block area at a time, come in with dumpsters, and different groups and developers would spend an entire weekend painting and cleaning the community. Droves of people donated time, money and paint. To handle all the debris, they would get trash companies to drop off dumpsters, and haul the trash without charging the city.
“Oceanside was the ugly duckling of San Diego. We had 13 documented gangs, and now you wouldn’t recognize the downtown compared to when I started there,” she said
She welcomes all who want help, or want to volunteer, contact
Brann_Ka@SBCity.org or (909) 384-7259