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Eligibility for Loans May Be Tightened

Eligibility for low-cost loans to fix up houses in Thousand Oaks would be tightened under proposed revisions to a housing rehabilitation program being considered today by the Thousand Oaks City Council.

Established in 1987, the program provides financial assistance to low- and moderate-income residents who want to renovate or repair their single family residences or mobile homes. The program is administered by the Area Housing Authority of Ventura County and has an annual budget of $200,000.

The proposed revisions are intended to make the program more efficient, said Olav Hassel, the city’s housing services manager.

For instance, no-interest deferred loans would be available to homeowners whose annual income is half of the city’s household median income, about $56,000. Existing regulations allow the loans to those with incomes at 80% of the median.

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Those whose income is between 50% and 80% of the median income would be eligible for 4% interest loans. Those whose incomes are between 80% and 100% of the median, considered moderate income residents, would pay 6% interest.

Another revision would discontinue a 10-year “forgivable loan” to owners renting to very low income families. Previously, owners could apply for no-interest $30,000 loans for the renovation of single family structures, $10,000 for mobile homes and $15,000 to $20,000 for rental units.

During the 10-year life of the loan, 10% of the borrowed amount would be forgiven for each year the owner complied with the eligibility provisions. The council’s staff is recommending that the program be discontinued because only six owners have participated, and also because “it’s too much of a give-a-way,” Hassel said.

To date, the city has provided 140 grants and loans and repaired 135 residences through the Housing Rehabilitation Program. Most of the recipients have been low income senior citizens.

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