Never mind the acronyms. This is good news for first-time or low-income homeowners needing to replace boilers or widen doors.
It’s called GFOR, and pronounced like the short-tailed mammal. If you decode the acronym, you’ll want to snooze: Gap Financing for Owner-occupied Rehabilitation for Code Compliance. Yet it’s a great new deal for low-to-moderate income New Haven homeowners needing to fix up their roofs, correct code violations, and, in effect, stay in their homes without breaking their bank accounts.
At a recent gathering of the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund (GNHCLF), Executive Director Carla Weil (on the left) and Director of Development and Administration Jackie Downing explained what GFOR is and how it will work. The key word is “gap.”
“Many municipalities, such as New Haven,” explained Dowling, “have designated funds set aside to do, for example, lead abatement. But let’s say an inspector comes to a house and sees the need not only for lead abatement, but emergency electrical repairs to bring a place up to code. And let’s say the total is $7,000. If the city’s funds provide only $5,000, and the homeowner in question is eligible, then GFOR may be for them. We may be able to provide the difference, $2,000, so the home is brought up to code, and the owner can stay and be dry and safe.”
Under the program, up to $25,000 per unit will be available to borrowers who earn not more than 120 percent of what’s called AMI, or adjusted median income, in New Haven County for properties identified as having emergency needs. Emergency needs are, for example: roof or boiler replacement, handicapped ramp installation, door widening for a wheelchair, or correction of violations. The AMI is subject to change, but, at this point, for a couple, the AMI is $58,000, so a couple earning together up to $69,600 would be eligible.
Downing mentioned a situation she had heard about in Hamden, where a child had an accident, requiring a long wheelchair-bound recuperation. The child could not come home from the hospital without the house being ramped and doors widened. The accident was, as accidents are, utterly unexpected, and the family’s funds for such capital expenditures were in short supply. Enter GFOR to pick up the difference between what other funds could provide and the total cost.
Priority is given to homes located in communities where affordable housing is in short supply, where homeowners are renovating using green building concepts, and where first-time homebuyers are purchasing in close proximity to employment or transportation to employment.
The funds also are considered “forgivable loans.” That is, they do not have to be paid back as long as the property remains occupied by the owner for fifteen years. If the homeowner sells before that, the principal is repayable on sale of the property, and that is put into the deed.
The GNHCLF, which specializes in filling the gaps—whether for providing capital for the city’s affordable housing initiatives or the cash flow problems of non-profits—has hit the jackpot again with this idea. The money is coming from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development through a newly created program called the Housing Trust Fund. GNHCLF’s piece of this new and important pie is $800,000.
According to Downing and Weil, the program should be in place within the next month or so. For more information, a first step can be to contact GNHCLF through its website or call at 789-8690