Critical Home Repair for Low-Income Cully Residents: Preventing displacement one home at a time
NAYA, Habitat to collaborate on home repair and weatherization projects
Eron Riddle, project coordinator for the home repair and weatherization* program at the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Cully Wx 2.0, has learned that connections and collaboration are vital to creating successful outcomes for low-income Cully homeowners. This year, Living Cully partners, NAYA and Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East (Habitat), will have the opportunity for even deeper collaboration. Adjustments to Habitat’s program and added capacity are helping them work more closely with NAYA on home repair projects in the neighborhood. Taren Evans, who joined Habitat full time in the spring as the Neighborhood Revitalization Manager, helped make changes to their existing home repair program in response to neighborhood need, she explains:
“…A lot of neighbors were not able to qualify for our program. Our hope is that by making these changes we can serve a lot more people in the neighborhood, especially those with the greatest need”
Habitat’s Home repair program is targeted at low-income homeowners in Cully, below or at 80% median area income. They are able to do different types of projects, from critical home repairs to yard clean ups, with the main focus on critical home repairs. This year their program requirements have changed to make it easier for Cully neighbors to access the program. They are no longer looking at debt to income ratios and have changed their model so that it no longer includes monthly payments. Instead, the projects are based on a deferred 0% interest loan that is due upon sale of property or refinancing. To be approved for the program, applicants have to have at least $15,000 of equity in their home, meaning that the market value of the homes has to be at least $15,000 more than the remainder owed on their mortgage. After 20 years, if the property has not been sold or transferred, the borrower obligation to pay is reduced to one dollar. Habitat’s goals for this year are to do 10-15 critical repairs, and 5-10 smaller projects (yard clean-ups etc.).
NAYA and Habitat are currently working on their first joint project, a home in the neighborhood that needs a huge amount of work, including a full roof repair. Eron shares, “If we weren’t able to partner with Habitat, and layer services, we probably would have expended all of our resources on the roof, so we wouldn’t have been able to do interior repairs. With the changes to Habitat’s program we are now able to address all of the major issues with the home and fully serve a client that really needs it.”
Both programs share a common vision; providing a service that keeps low-income Cully home-owners in their homes, a literal tool for preventing displacement. Home repairs are a way to alleviate the pressures that homeowners feel when facing critical safety and health issues in their home, or extremely high energy bills because of poor insulation or windows that need to be replaced. When faced with a decision of whether to stay and pay for repairs that they can’t afford, or sell their home, homeowners are in a tough position. These programs hope to take some of that pressure off of homeowners and allow them the opportunity to stay in their neighborhood and in their home. Of the 10 homeowners that NAYA worked with last year, all but 2 have stayed in the neighborhood (The two who are no longer in the neighborhood did not leave the neighborhood because they were displaced). With their increased capacity to work together, NAYA and Habitat hope to see similar results for the upcoming year. “Although we will look at projects on a case-by-case basis, the intent is whenever possible to work together”, shares Taren.
To apply for Habitat’s Home Repair Program please contact Jake Antles: Jake@habitatportlandmetro.org or 503-287-9529 ext. 39
To apply for NAYA’s Home Repair and Weatherization Program please contact Eron Riddle: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Weatherization is the practice of protecting a home from sunlight, precipitation, and wind, and of making changes to a home in order to reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency. Weatherization work often includes increasing insulation, replacing windows, etc.