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A Ray of Sunshine

The dark black storm clouds that tore through the city earlier this summer may be long gone but, for many local residents, a different type of cloud still lingers.
Although the tornado that touched down in Brooklyn may have missed Queens, the accompanying rains caused widespread devastation of their own, flooding countless residents’ homes and leaving them scrambling to repair the damage.
Insurance settlements, that often fail to cover the full cost of repairs, have left owners having to dip deep into savings or take on costly home improvement loans to make up the difference.
While never easy for anyone, for some - particularly the borough’s elderly and working class homeowners - securing this kind of financing can be a real problem. Fortunately, it does not have to be. The New Housing Marketplace Plan - Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $7.5 billion plan to create and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing - contains a number of programs designed to help.
The Home Improvement Program (HIP) - a program run by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) - offers low-interest loans of up to $30,000 to qualified families living in one- to four-family homes.
Homeowners making up to $102,700 for a family of four qualify for a 5 percent rate, while those making below $56,700 for that same family of four qualify for a 2.5 percent rate. The loans can be paid back over the course of 10 years and can be obtained from participating local banks with no closing costs.
For qualified seniors ages 60 and up, the Senior Citizen Deferred Payment Homeowner Assistance Loan Program (SCHAP) offers 0-3 percent rehabilitation loans of up to $30,000 per unit for owner-occupied two- to four-family homes and up to $40,000 for single-family homes.
Couples making up to $68,000 and individuals making up to $59,600 qualify for 30-year, deferred payment loans where the principal and interest are not due until transference of the property to a new owner. The loans are financed by HPD and administered through the Parodneck Foundation, a non-profit organization operating throughout the five boroughs.
Lastly, the Emergency Loan and Revolving Loan Fund Programs - programs run as partnerships between HPD and the Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), a national non-profit housing organization - provide rehabilitation loans of up to $30,000 per unit to qualified homeowners living in one- to four-family homes.
In addition, emergency loans of up to $10,000 are also available. Families of four making up to $102,700 can qualify for these predominantly 5-year loans, while couples can earn up to $82,150. The loans are administered through NHS’s neighborhood offices, which are located in all five boroughs.
Owners will need to provide information about family size; total family income; proof that the building is, in fact, owner occupied; a list of the building’s current problems; a proposed work scope and a release authorizing a credit check.
If approved, the borrower can receive their money in as little as a month of first submitting the application. Homeowners can then begin repairs with the help of a licensed contractor or, in certain circumstances, even on their own.
For further information on any of these programs, please visit the HPD website at www.nyc.gov/hpd or call the City’s 3-1-1 hotline and ask for details on HPD’s home loan programs.

Shaun Donovan is Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development

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