The Village of Port Chester plans to start a Housing Rehabilitation Program. The program will stabilize the village’s existing housing stock in neighborhoods. A draft of a Housing Rehabilitation Program was recently presented to the board. Board members were in favor of the plan but were concerned with certain aspects of it such as absentee landlords and rentals versus the preferred owner occupants.
“The Housing Rehabilitation Program is consistent with some of the concepts expressed in the Comprehensive Plan and I am supportive of the concept,” said Planning Commission Chairman Michael Scarola. “I think some of the details that [The Board of Trustees] are talking about working out are appropriate. [The Trustees] are going in the right direction with it.”
In 2006, the Board of Trustees accepted a developer’s offer to contribute $200,000 to set up an Affordable Housing Fund. In 2010, the board accepted a payment of $600,000 from the developers into the Village Affordable Housing Fund. The board is now looking to put the $800,000 collected into action in a way that can help the village address some of its most important issues‑-such as density, code violations, illegal housing--and to preserve, restore and revitalize Port Chester’s housing stock and neighborhoods.
According to the Rehabilitation Program draft presented to the Board of Trustees on Monday, Aug. 6, such funds may be applied to down payments and other customary closing costs and expenses.
The board feels that rather than distributing funds for the purchases of new properties, they would rather distribute the funds to residents who are interested in rehabbing dilapidated properties, especially in cases where an absentee landlord can be replaced by an owner-occupant.
“It sounds like there is a consensus to have it as housing rehab only, owner occupied only and affordable housing in the Neighborhood Revitilazation Strategy Areas only,” said Mayor Dennis Pilla. “We are directing staff to have discussions about having more flexibility in the Housing Rehab Fund.”
Rose Noonan, Executive Director of Housing Action Council, has been working with the village on the possibilities of the Housing Rehabilitation Program.
“I understand why they would want to focus on owner occupancy,” said Noonan. “There is an interest on the part of many people in Port Chester and surrounding communities to become homeowners. By having a pool of funds like this available in certain areas may very well be the incentive to have them move there.”
The draft proposed relief for owners of rental properties as well as owner occupants. The board asked for a reworked draft that reflected their preference toward owner occupants. The following were included in the Rehabilitation Program draft and were looked upon favorably.
Goal: To stabilize the existing housing stock and neighborhoods in the Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area.
- To concentrate housing rehabilitation activities in one or more neighborhoods/census blocks at a time.
- To identify single family and multi-family properties with code violations or health and safety hazards through linkage with the Village’s Code Enforcement Program.
- To make loans, including deferred loans, to owner occupants of one to four family properties and to owners of rental properties of 10 or fewer units.
Eligible Applicants: Owner-occupants of one to four units with household incomes at or less than 80 percent of the median income of Westchester County, including new homebuyers.
Household Income Limits as of June 2012, 2012
- One Person Household - $60,450
- Two Person Household - $69,050
- Three Person Household - $77,700
- Four Person Household - $86,300
- Removal of hazardous code violations.
- Repairs related to health and safety, including but not limited to electrical and plumbing repairs, roof repairs, and replacement of heating systems.
- Repairs that prolong the useful life of a structure or system and/or energy conservation improvements done in connection with removal of hazardous code violations and/or repairs for health and safety.
Types of Assistance for Owner Occupied Properties: Term of the loan interest rate based on homeowner’s ability to cover additional debt. Includes a possibility of a full or partial deferred loan due at transfer of ownership.
Maximum Loan Amount: $50,000 (Direct Loan or Interest Subsidy – If the applicant can carry additional debt and is credit worthy, the Program Administrator will assess whether an Interest Subsidy would be feasible, e.g., reduction of an interest rate from 5% to 2% as an Interest Subsidy would be less costly to the program than a Direct Loan.)
Proposed Annual Cost assuming an Affordable Housing Fund of $800,000 with an average loan of $35,000 for 20 to 25 properties:
- Program Director - $65,000
- Fringe (22%) - $14,330
- Rehabilitation Specialist - $57,500 (est. at $2,500/property)
- Office Services - $10,000 (office space, telephone, bookkeeping, reproduction, etc.)
- Total - $146,830
Density, overcrowding, code violations and affordable housing are at the forefront of issues that Port Chester is dealing with. The Housing Rehabilitation Program is involved in most of those areas. The draft will be reworked and represented to the board at a future meeting.