Fewer home improvement loans taken from NRP funding

Smaller projects are still being done.

The Southeast Como Improvement Association has been seeing fewer people taking out home improvement loans from Neighborhood Revitalization Program funds, SECIA neighborhood coordinator James DeSota said. However, people are still doing smaller projects, like renovating a kitchen, he said. âÄúAs far as somebody looking to redo the façade of their homes, or something more major, we are not seeing as much interest at this point,âÄù he said. Stacy Sorenson, a neighborhood specialist with the Neighborhood Revitalization Program whose neighborhoods include Marcy-Holmes and Southeast Como , said this was due largely to the economic climate. âÄúWhile there are some good deals out there right now,âÄù she said, âÄúmy understanding is that people are a little weary of taking out loans just because of the economy and uncertainty and so on.âÄù Eligibility requirements vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. In Southeast Como, rental properties are not eligible for any loans, something DeSota said greatly decreases the eligible pool. DeSota said exceptions could be made if a loan was requested to renovate a side-by-side duplex where the owner lived in one half. DeSota said loans in Southeast Como are subsidized at this point. According to the Center for Energy and EnvironmentâÄôs website, which does a majority of the marketing for the loans, Southeast Como is currently offering loans with a fixed 5.25 percent rate. Other University neighborhoods are also offering similar loans. Marcy-Holmes is currently offering loans at a 5 percent fixed rate; Prospect Park is offering them at 4 percent. âÄúPeople donâÄôt have the money to put out up front, people are worried about taking on an additional loan,âÄù DeSota said. âÄúA lot of it is fear based, and thatâÄôs understandable. I think in some instances, people are waiting to see what goes on in the next year or two.âÄù However, Erica Graber-Mitchell, community relations manager for the CEE , said her organization, which markets to a broader area and has programs outside of NRP, has seen an increase in activity, which she attributes to people staying in their homes longer. âÄúThey are realizing their homes are the best investment they can make right now,âÄù she said. âÄúWe are seeing a lot of people doing things that will save them money in the long run, such as insulation or energy upgrades or that kind of thing.âÄù Within the last year, SECIA began marketing the programs more heavily, DeSota said. He said the association has around $190,000 for revolving loans. Previously, when the association had less funds, they did not do much outreach, he said. âÄúItâÄôll be interesting to see if we see an uptick,âÄù DeSota said. âÄúAs of right now, the numbers IâÄôve seen from a monthly basis donâÄôt point to a lot of people originating new loans.âÄù