How to apply for the city’s home repair loan programs –

By Vivi Smilgius
Spring cleaning and home repair often go hand in hand, but spending on renovations is projected to drop by the end of March 2024, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity from the Remodeling Futures Program at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.
The LIRA report attributes this projected 2.8% dip in spending to increased interest rates and the threat of recession. However, initiatives like the Boston Home Center’s Home Repair Loan Programs aim to help owners make improvements.
Sandra Correia, the senior program manager of Boston Home Center‘s repair programs, said that homeownership is a priority in the Wu administration and that the center aims to ensure that homeowners live in safe and comfortable environments.
“Any homeowner that is an owner-occupant, if they meet all the guidelines of the program, can participate in HomeWorks Help,” she said.
The program has seen an uptick in applicants in the past year, she said. “We are seeing a real increase in the number of applications received specially for home repair. A lot of it is because of the cost of repairs.”
Boston Home Center offers three loan programs: the HomeWorks Home Equity Loan Program (HomeWorksHELP), Senior Home Repair, and Seniors Save. A fourth program — LeadSafe Boston — is also available to Bostonians, but the center does not administer it.
Repair programs address homeowners’ needs, whether it’s replacing a heating appliance or repairing a deck. Here are each of the four programs, explained, as well as a guide through the application process:
This interest-free loan program is based on the cost of the project and covers indoor and outdoor repairs. The program grants up to $10,000 to condominium owners, up to $20,000 for one- to four-family homes, and up to $30,000 for three-deckers.
Homeowners can earn up to 135% of the Area Median Income, but those earning between 120% and 135% must match the loan dollar for dollar.
First, obtain estimates from two licensed and insured contractors. Once the application is completed, the city will send a specialist to review the project and approve the loan. You will receive a commitment letter, and after the loan is closed, the contractor will obtain a building permit.
After the project is completed, you give the city the invoice, and they will inspect the repair to ensure it was properly done. After that, you’ll pay the city back. It is an interest-free, deferred loan that you don’t have to pay until you transfer the title or move out of the house
This interest-free, deferred-payment loan plan is determined by health and safety necessities. To qualify, you must be at least 62 and an owner-occupant of a one- to four-family home. Your income may not exceed 80% of the Area Median Income.
To begin the process, your local agency will visit and decide which repairs are needed. The agency will help you apply to the Senior Home Repair Program, and Boston Home Center will assist in estimating the cost of the repair. A partner agency will help you through the application, loan, repair, and payment processes. 
This program provides $8,000 grants to help homeowners above the age of 60 replace aging heating systems. If the grant does not cover the replacement — which is rare — an interest-free, deferred loan can be applied to the remaining balance. This program does not serve as a reimbursement for already-completed heating system replacements.
Homeowners applying for this program must earn 80% or lower of the Area Median Income.
Boston Home Center works with several agencies that can help you complete the application. After applying, a Boston Home Center project manager and construction specialist will visit your home and estimate the cost of fixing your heating system. If approved, the project will be completed and then inspected after the work is completed.
LeadSafe Boston is a forgivable loan of up to $10,000 per unit. It is available to owner-occupants of one- to four-unit homes or condos whose income does not exceed 80% of the Area Median Income.
It is also available to investor owners of one- to four-unit buildings in which at least half the residents are low- or middle-income and the remaining units are occupied by residents earning 80% or lower of the Area Median Income.
The program also offers free lead paint inspections and helps residents and investors obtain state tax credits.
After you complete the application, the city will send an inspector to decide which work needs to be done and how much it will cost. The contractor will begin work after you sign the loan documents.
When the work is completed, you pay the contractor following the final inspection. A letter of compliance will qualify you for a $10,000 tax credit. Then you will pay the city on the terms of the loan. If you meet the terms for three years, you don’t have to repay the $10,000-per-unit grant.
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