Marcy-Holmes launches loan program for home improvements

The zero-percent loan initiative is part of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.

Eliana Schreiber

In an effort to improve housing in the neighborhood, Marcy-Holmes will soon introduce a new loan program.

The new zero-percent loan program will be administered by the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation as part of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program.

The loan program dates back to the 1980s, when the city granted money to the neighborhood to improve housing as part of the NRP, said Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association Vice President Bob Stableski.

Members of the MHNA hope the new loan program will keep the housing stock up in the area, Stableski said.

“It was felt that the housing stock in the city was deteriorating,” he said.

Previously, MHNA tried to implement similar loans with low interest rates, but found the zero-percent loans more effective. MHNA donated the money to GMHC, a nonprofit organization, to administer the loans to resident homeowners, Stableski said.

Many area residents want to make small improvements on their homes, and zero-percent loans make the program more attractive, he said. The loans can be used for single-family homes up to four units, said GMHC Program Director Suzanne Snyder.

The units can be owner occupied or rental units, Snyder said, so landlords can apply for the money as well.

Homeowners can take out loans up to $20,000, and there is no minimum income level to apply, she said.

Of the nearly $700,000 allocated to MHNA under the NRP Phase II Neighborhood Action Plan, $174,000 is set aside for housing programs.

Other neighborhoods in the city also got NRP funding; Prospect Park received over $150,000 for home improvement, and Cedar-Riverside received $418,703. Each neighborhood is required to use 70 percent of its overall funds toward housing-related activities, according to city documents.

Snyder said there isn’t a specific target audience for the program, and since qualifications are broad, anyone who applies and meets specifications can get a loan.

“We’ve got everything in the neighborhood from high-end condos to landlords with housing at the University,” Stableski said. “And it isn’t like we decide who’s better and who’s worse.” 

He said the loans could be used for minor improvements like adding roofing, solar panels or a furnace.

Since the loans are smaller amounts, he said it is unlikely they could cause vast rifts in property value or rental prices.

There are a variety of houses in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, Stableski said, and the loans could help improve some of the older, historic homes to keep them in good shape.

While the interest-free loans will halve some costs for MHNA, he said the neighborhood is willing to administer the loans because it will benefit the neighborhood and its residents.

“It’ll actually cost more for each loan … but that’s OK with the neighborhood because we want to get this money in circulation,” Stableski said.