FULLERTON : Funds Available for Housing Repairs

More than $300,000 in grants and loans for housing improvements is available through a city-run program intended to help low-income homeowners.

Since 1974, the city's housing programs office has managed a federal loan program that extended more than $200,000 in loans in the 1992-93 fiscal year, officials said.

This year the city will also manage a federal program that will provide more than $120,000 in grants to qualifying Fullerton residents. Both programs are funded by the federal Housing and Urban Development Department.

Hortensia Gutierrez, a 67-year-old widow who works as an office manager, is one homeowner who benefited from the loan program last year. A $16,000 loan is paying for a new roof, interior and exterior painting, new wiring and smoke detectors.

"It's fantastic," Gutierrez said. Faced with a leaky roof, she had thought to raid her retirement account to pay for the repair. But her sister-in-law told her about the loan program, she said. She applied, and now construction workers are at her house.

About 20 homeowners benefited from the loans during the last fiscal year, according to Skip Smith, who administers the program.

To qualify for a loan, an applicant's income must be less than 80% of the area's median income. For a family of four, total income could not exceed $39,700, Smith said.

The loans are sometimes available with no interest, to be repaid only when the house is sold. Other loans have low interest rates.

To qualify for the new grant program, a family of four would have to make less than 50% of the area median income, Smith said.

Five types of grants are available: for painting, $2,500 maximum; for building code, health and safety improvements, $2,500 maximum; for roofing, a $5,000 maximum; for mobile home building code, health and safety improvements, $2,500 maximum; and for handicap modification, $4,000 maximum.

For applications and more information about the grant and loan programs, call (714) 738-6874.

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