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County home repair loans still available

Federal money for home repairs remains available to qualified Jackson County residents — and particularly for those living within Gold Hill, Phoenix and Medford, housing authorities say.

Tuesday's story in the Mail Tribune notifying county homeowners about zero-interest, home-equity loans drew more than 30 calls from interested readers seeking financial help fixing leaky plumbing, faulty wiring or a host of other home ills, said Jeff Jackson, a specialist with the Jackson County Housing Authority.

"We've sent out quite a few applications,"

said Jackson.

But the agency wants to make sure city residents also apply for the loans, as there is additional funding available for them, he said. "We're still looking for applicants residing within the city limits of Gold Hill, Phoenix and Medford," Jackson said.

Designed to aid low- to moderate-income homeowners who may not qualify through private lending agencies, the Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program is funded through a federal Community Development Block Grant and Oregon Housing and Community Services, the state's housing finance agency. Applicants must provide proof of home ownership, inhabit the property and meet income guidelines. Equity in the property provides collateral for the loans, which must be repaid if the borrower sells, transfers or refinances, Jackson said.

Gold Hill and Phoenix received approximately $500,000 in funding, which was loaned to qualified in-city residents. A portion of that money is available to be loaned out again, he said.

"We have money from folks who have sold their homes and repaid the program," said Jackson, adding that the agency is applying for $200,000 in grants for Medford.

"Basically we want to have a wait list of applicants so we can help people as soon as the money becomes available."

Homeowners typically use the money to replace failed heating systems, fix leaking roofs, update electrical services, remove dry rot or provide handicap accessibility. The money can be used to make any repairs deemed reasonable or necessary by the housing authority, said Steven Kraft, a housing authority specialist.

"We handle a lot of dry rot in bathrooms and roofs," said Kraft. "We also do a lot of weatherizing of windows and doors."

Qualified homeowners throughout the county can borrow up to $24,000 in deferred-payment loans. Homeowners can use their own contractors if the professional is licensed and bonded, he said.

While some homeowners pay their loans back quickly, others may take as long as 15 or 20 years, Kraft said.

To qualify, applicants must provide proof of ownership, inhabit the property and meet income guidelines based on the size of the family.

For a single-person household, the yearly annual income must be under $29,600. For a family of four, the income must be below $42,300, Jackson said.

Annual income limits are determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and are adjusted yearly. Applicants will be placed on a waiting list according to the date of application. Priority may be given in some circumstances, he said.

For an application or more information on the low-income, zero-interest loans, call 779-5785, ext. 1009.