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Up to 75 Eastern Iowa households could get repairs under forgivable loan program

Workers for Pa’s Roofing remove the old roof of a home in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Workers for Pa’s Roofing remove the old roof of a home in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Up to 75 homeowners across six Eastern Iowa counties will have the opportunity to make home repairs thanks to a five-year forgivable loan program.

The loans are available to Johnson County homeowners outside of Iowa City, Linn County homeowners outside of Cedar Rapids and homeowners in Benton, Iowa, Jones and Washington counties, said Mark Culver, housing specialist for the East Central Iowa Council of Governments.

The funds, from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, were made possible through local matches provided by the Housing Trust Fund of Johnson County, Housing Fund for Linn County and the East Central Iowa Housing Trust Fund.

“They are the driving force for each of these programs,” Culver said of the respective local housing fund programs. “Without the housing trust funds, this money probably wouldn’t be available.”

Each of the housing trust funds received a different amount of funding to help a different number of households on a first-come, first-served basis:

— In Johnson County, $330,000 will be available to help about 20 homes.

— In Linn County, $412,500 will be available to assist 25 homes.

— In Benton, Iowa, Jones and Washington counties, a total of $495,000 will go to 30 homes.

Culver said there is a “wide variety” of repairs homeowners can make under the program, including windows, doors, roofing, siding, furnaces, water heaters and electric and plumbing work.

“It’s to keep people in their homes and give them safe places to live,” he said. “It’s to help the low- to moderate-income individuals who otherwise would not be able to make these repairs to their homes.”

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In order to qualify for the program, homeowners must be at an income level below 80 percent of the area median income. That income level will vary from county to county, Culver said.

For example, one person in Johnson County cannot make more than $53,850 and a two-person household cannot make more than $60,400.

The program also is limited to owner-occupied homes. If the homeowner remains in the home for five years, they will not owe anything on the assistance provided.

However, should the homeowner sell before the five years on the loan is up, they’ll have to repay a prorated portion on the loan, Culver said.

“The reason we put the five-year lien on there is to keep people from using the program to turn a profit,” he said.

Applications for the forgivable loan program are available at ecicog.org. Culver said there is a waiting list for the programs.

• Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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