City starts home repair pilot program

Poppy Slater

Lower-income Rio Rancho homeowners can get help with health- and safety-related house repairs through a partnership between the city and the nonprofit Homewise Inc.

The two organizations are running a home repair pilot program.

Qualifying residents can receive up to $25,000 in a deferred, interest-free, forgivable loan to address problems with heating and cooling systems, plumbing, roofs, doors, windows, stucco or siding, electrical systems and other principal components. They can also make energy-efficiency upgrades.

A licensed, insured and bonded contractor must do the work.

The Rio Rancho Governing Body has earmarked up to $300,000 for the program.

“This pilot program is an opportunity to help our residents with financial barriers be able to live safely in their homes, and it is an important reinvestment initiative that can be of a particular benefit in our older neighborhoods,” said City Manager Matt Geisel.

Households can qualify if their income is at or below 80 percent of the area median income. That means $37,800 per year for an individual, $54,000 for a household of four, $62,650 for a household of six and so forth.

From March 2-31, residents can use the form at homewise.org/repair to see if their income makes them eligible. They can also speak with a Homewise staff member by calling (505) 243-6566 to learn more about the program, the qualification process and required documents.

At 8 a.m. April 1, the application portal will open for submission of applications and associated documents. Loans will be approved until the money is all used.

The loans will be secured by a mortgage lien and promissory note, and will be valued at the cost of repairs. They’ll be forgiven over a five-year period at a rate of 20 percent per year as long as the homeowner continues to live at the property.

The money comes from American Rescue Plan Act distributions to the city. Federal guidance indicates that assistance with home repairs is an eligible use of the funds and anyone with low to moderate income is presumed to have experienced a negative economic impact due to COVID-19.

As Rio Rancho’s partner, Homewise will income-qualify homeowners, verify completion of repairs and offer technical assistance and education to homeowners. They’ll receive an administrative fee for those services.

“Homewise is honored to partner with the City of Rio Rancho to offer an affordable way for Rio Rancho homeowners to maintain and improve their homes. This program allows homeowners to protect their most significant financial asset, which in turn protects the family’s main source of wealth,” said Elena Gonzales, Homewise senior director of Policy and Resource Development.

Homewise is a New Mexico-based nonprofit that began in 1986.

This chart shows income levels for eligibility in the home repair pilot program the City of Rio Rancho and nonprofit Homewise are partnering to offer. For more information, visit homewise.org/repair or call (505) 243-6566. Courtesy chart.

City starts home repair pilot program

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