Tuesday, June 11, 2002

County residents snap up new home improvement loans

By Dan Klepal, dklepal@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        More than $1 million in low-interest home improvement loans were approved by Hamilton County during the first week of a new program.

        In all, 58 loans were preapproved by banks and signed off on by county officials at an average of $17,000. The highest loan was $50,000; the lowest $3,000. The loans must get final approval from the banks.

        Two county residents were rejected — one for having delinquent property taxes and one for living in Anderson Township, where township trustees have not agreed to participate in the program.

        To qualify for a loan, county residents must have homes valued at less than $300,000 and live in a jurisdiction that has agreed to participate in the program.

        So far, 43 of the county's 49 jurisdictions have agreed to participate, covering more than 90 percent of the population.

        A total of $28 million in loans will be offered under the program, in which the county uses its investment portfolio to buy 3 percentage points off the market rate.

        Anderson Township trustees say they are unclear if it is legal for townships to participate in the program, even though the county prosecutor's office has issued an opinion saying it is.

        Township trustees passed a resolution last week asking that their residents be eligible for the program without the township participating in marketing and inspecting homes.

        Commissioner Todd Portune, who drew up the program, said that's not likely to happen.

        “Anderson Township trustees need to do what every other township in the county has done and meet the requirements of the program,” Mr. Portune said.

        The $1 million in loans will cost the county about $10,000 in lost investments. That's a sweet deal to Mr. Portune.

        “In all probability, every single one of these loans represents a household that has made a commitment to stay in the county,” Mr. Portune said. “With a very nominal investment, the county has sparked over $1 million in private investment in the county's aging housing stock.”


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