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Low- to middle-income Chatham-Kent homeowners needing to improve energy efficiency or accessibility for their homes can access now access more money through a longtime municipal program.
The maximum one-time loan through the Renovates Program offered through Chatham-Kent Housing Services has increased to $50,000 from $25,000 while accessibility grants of as much as $5,000 are available.
“With the cost of construction and inflation across the board, it’s the maximum allowable under the program guidelines,” said Beth Earley, program manager of housing services. “I believe that increasing income and home value limits to the maximum allowable under the program guidelines provides greater opportunities for Chatham-Kent homeowners to be safe and comfortable in their homes.”
Households with a gross annual income less than $80,100 and a Municipal Property Assessment Corporation-assessed home valued less than $342,252 may be eligible for a 10-year forgivable loan or grant.
“The loan is payment free, interest free and forgivable if the homeowner occupant complies with program rules at all times,” the application states. “Provided the homeowner occupant remains in compliance with program rules, the loan is forgiven at the rate of 10 per cent per year over the program period.”
Other criteria to qualify include having mortgage and property tax payments up to date and no second lien on title.
“The intention is that you keep the home as your sole residence for the 10-year affordability period,” Earley said.
If someone decides to either sell or rent the home, or purchase a second property to rent, there would be a requirement to pay back the money owed, she added.
“The intention of the program is to help low- to middle-income earners make accessibility and environmental improvements to their primary residence,” said Earley.
She added the loans and grants are not eligible to fund improvements for secondary properties.
Earley said the program is an excellent tool to help reduce utility costs, make homes accessible and allow seniors to age in place.
She said funding is provided by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing through the Ontario Priority Housing Initiative while the municipality kicks in $100,000 annually.
The types of home-improvement projects that can qualify include doors and window replacements, foundation work, heating systems, electrical systems, plumbing, toilet replacement with low-flush or a dual-flush toilet, and roof, wall, ceiling and floor upgrades.
Accessibility improvement projects that qualify for grant funding include ramp installations, chair and bath lifts and height adjustment to countertops.
Earley said the program has been running for the past 10 years, with an average of 20 loans provided annually.
Not everyone needs the maximum loan amount, however.
“We’ve done loans for as little as $3,000 or $4,000 for small repairs that are either an energy efficiency repair or for accessibility,” Earley said.
There is no deadline to apply for a loan within the year. Earley said homeowners are encouraged to give some thought to what improvements their homes need and call 519-351-8587 to discuss any questions they may have.
Full details on program eligibility and accessing an application are available at www.chatham-kent.ca/renovationsprogram.