The city plans to switch from repair loans to grants

The Greensboro Housing and Neighborhood Development Department plans to convert the current home repair loan program to a home repair grant program.

The presentation of this new program took place on Thursday, October 27 at the Greensboro City Council Working Session.

Not a single City Council member asked about the financial aspects of converting a loan program to a grant program. With a loan program, it is assumed that at least part of the loans will be repaid. A grant program is simply a giveaway—no money ever goes back to the program or the city.

The benefits of moving from a loan program to a grant program are clear. The number one reason, according to the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department, is, “Does not impact a homeowner’s equity.”

The other benefits of giving money away instead of borrowing money for home repairs are:

  • Heirloom property, title issues, marital status, insurance and credit are no obstacles.
  • Less likely to trigger expensive federal regulations – lead paint, historic windows/doors, relocation.
  • Can significantly increase the number of units completed without increasing staff capacity
  • Lower per-unit cost spreads limited support among more eligible applicants.
  • Allows for more geographic targeting and leverages the effects of upgraded units in a concentrated area.
  • Funding conditions are more in line with other available program resources.

So there’s less paperwork and less hassle for both the Housing and Neighborhood Development Agency and the applicant, but the presentation doesn’t say anything about how the city can give away money instead of borrowing money.

To qualify for the program, the household income must be less than 60 percent of the area’s median income, the homeowner must have clear title, and have lived in the home as their primary residence for at least five years. The homeowner must not own additional real estate, must not owe any money to the City of Greensboro or Guilford County, and the home must be within the Greensboro city limits.

The City Council, without receiving information about the program’s financial impact, expressed full support for the move from a repairs loan program to a repairs giveaway program.

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