Foundation plans to expand housing programs

The Coon Rapids Mortgage Assistance Foundation (CRMAF) plans to expand its efforts to improve the housing stock in Coon Rapids.

According to its 2012 year-end report to the Coon Rapids City Council, the foundation has directed city staff that work with it to bring forward new housing-related program opportunities in the coming year.

These include Home for Generations Two, senior housing programs, a housing resource fair providing one-on-one contact between residents and the professional design services field and green remodeling, Donna Naeve, foundation president told the council.

At its annual meeting last month, the foundation re-elected Naeve as president, Jim Stanton as vice president and Lyle Haney as treasurer with Scott Schulte taking over as secretary.

The foundation was established in 1979 to allow the city to issue low interest housing bonds to boost new housing construction at a time of high interest rates.

The $45 million housing revenue bond issue was paid off in March 2003.

Mortgage payments from homeowners who benefited from the bond issue paid off the bonds.

And the money that has built up in the foundation coffers over the years has been allocated, for the most part, to housing and rehabilitation projects in Coon Rapids.

The foundation board last year reaffirmed that the money would be used for housing-related purposes within the city limits by current or future Coon Rapids residents.

Under board policy, funding guidelines include housing structure preservation, housing value enhancements, housing accessibility improvements and pilot projects related to housing.

According to its financial report, the CRMAF had a program fund balance of $4,258,272 as of Sept. 30, 2012 and $2,121,690 in its housing fund to which money is transferred from the program fund for housing improvement loans.

In a report to the foundation board, Cheryl Bennett, city housing and zoning coordinator, outlined the new programs on which the board wants to move forward.

• Home for Generations Two – incentives for property owners to undertake remodeling projects on their homes, possibly through rebates, streamlined permit process and/or capped fees as well as architectural, design or landscape design assistance.

• Housing resource fair – provide residents access to architectural and landscape design consultations, energy efficiency experts and other home improvement services.

• Green remodeling – technical and financial assistance for green remodeling projects.

• Senior regeneration program to help senior residents transition from their homes, making the property available to younger families.

• Senior accessibility program – remodeling projects that target accessibility renovation and universal design incorporation to enable seniors to remain in their own homes.

At this time, the foundation funds four long-standing programs.

• Home improvement incentive program – incentives to make repairs or value-added improvements to single-family houses as well as common interest community (CIC) properties.

• Home rehabilitation assistance program, which provides assistance to make repairs or improvement to correct defects or deficiencies in single-family and CIC properties.

• Two-family home rehabilitation program, which offers incentives for exterior maintenance and rehabilitation projects on both units of duplexes.

• Emergency home repair program – emergency repairs to single-family and CIC properties when other resources are not available to the homeowner.

The newest foundation project – the regenerations down payment assistance loan program – was launched in April 2010.

The foundation has allocated $300,000 to the program which can be used in conjunction with an FHA 203(k) mortgage to purchase and renovate a single-family detached property in the city with a least $10,000 in rehabilitation or renovation work completed within six months of closing.

The down payment assistance maximum is $6,000 and the money is provided in the form of a second mortgage.

No payments are required and no interest is tacked on unless the loan is repaid within the first three years after closing.

The loan balance is reduced proportionately between years four through 10 and completely forgiven after 10 years.

The program has no income limits on borrowers, is not restricted to first-time home buyers and is not limited to foreclosed properties.

According to Bennett, as of Oct. 31, 2012, 18 down payment assistance loans have been issued through the program totaling $85,209, which has produced $355,295 worth of rehabilitation and remodeling work and returned 15 formerly vacant, foreclosed properties to owner occupancy.

Five of these loans were closed in 2012 and three loan applications are currently on file, Bennett wrote in a report to the foundation board.

According to Mayor Tim Howe, a member of the foundation board, the biggest challenge is to get the word out about the foundation’s programs.

“We will keep working at it,” Howe said.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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