29 Jan County program assists low-income residents with no-cost home repairs
Earl Pfeiffer, Florida Home Partnership executive director, invites eligible low-income families and seniors to apply for a no-payment, no-interest loan program the partnership administers for Hillsborough County. The program provides financing for needed repairs to bring homes up to current housing codes. DOUG ARNOLD
RUSKIN — Homeowners facing expensive home repairs may be eligible for no-payment, no-interest financial assistance from a Hillsborough County program administered by the Florida Home Partnership.
The program provides financing to eligible homeowners to make needed repairs to bring their homes up to current housing codes. This includes single family dwellings and townhomes within unincorporated Hillsborough County, Temple Terrace and Plant City, but outside of the Tampa city limits. Tampa administers its own repair financing program.
Florida Home Partnership was founded in 1993 under the name Homes for Hillsborough Inc.
Its original goal was to bring the USDA Mutual Self-Help Housing Program to Hillsborough County to provide affordable housing for low-income families. Since then the partnership also administers new housing development and residential assistance opportunities throughout the entire county.
Financial assistance for necessary home repairs is made in the form of a zero-interest loan or grant. The maximum loan amount is $47,200, depending on a home’s value and the amount owed on any existing mortgage.
“The first and foremost requirement is income eligibility,” said Earl Pfeiffer, Florida Home Partnership executive director. “Essentially, this serves low-income families and senior citizens living at 80 percent of the area median income.”
For a family of four, an income of about $47,500 qualifies and a single homeowner may qualify with income as low as $33,050.
“Exceptions apply, so if you think you may qualify you should call us,” Pfeiffer said.
Home value is also a criteria and, for most homeowners, a home’s value cannot exceed $138,000; however, valuation may require appraisal by a licensed appraiser.
In addition to residence requirements, the partnership requires the following to qualify:
Live in a home that meet eligibility requirements. Mobile homes are not included.
Have lived in the home for two years prior to application.
Not have received assistance in the past five years from the Affordable Housing Services.
Be current on mortgage and property taxes.
Meet income requirements. Pfeiffer recommends calling to check on individual eligibility.
“Repairs are designed to bring houses back up to code,” said Mike Morina, the partnership’s housing services manager. “This typically means repairs on heating and air conditioning, roofing, electrical and plumbing.”
A staff member will visit the home to determine what repairs are needed. The partnership then seeks bids from licensed general contractors to do the eligible work.
“We oversee the process and ensure the contractors are all properly licensed and insured,” Morina said.
“The best part of this program is designed to make the monthly loan payments zero,” Pfeiffer said. “Over 10 years, the county forgives 10 percent of the loan each year, so the loan is reduced to zero in that time.”
Interested homeowners should call the Florida Home Partnership at (813) 672-7889 to discuss eligibility requirements. Callers should be prepared to answer questions about total annual income, duration of residency at the home they are living in, family size and information about current mortgage and liens.
“This is a valuable program for families and seniors with limited income to make needed repairs,” said Morina. “Hundreds have benefited from the program and not had to repay a single dime.”
For information, visit www.fl home.org or call (813) 672-7889.
Freelance writer Douglas Arnold can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.