NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 31, 2013

Paying dividends

Rehab program improves housing for 168 families

(Continued)

Households can earn more and still qualify as moderate income. Those thresholds are $47,150 for a single person, $53,900 for two people, $60,000 for three and $67,350 for four.

The program has a maximum repair spending limit of $30,000 per household without the involvement of lead removal, $35,000 if lead removal is included, Beaulieu said. The average spent per unit in Salisbury over the years is $25,974, she said.

When an applicant is income-qualified for the program, Beaulieu sends Philip Jewett, the program’s rehabilitation inspector specialist, to determine repair priorities. Based on what Jewett finds, Beaulieu issues a request for sealed bids from the program’s approved list of contractors and craftsmen. The lowest bid is chosen, she said.

The Housing Rehabilitation Program has paid for bringing electrical and plumbing up to code, new roofs and siding, repairs to structural elements and flooring undermined by water or storm damage, weatherization and heating improvements such as furnace, insulation and windows; improvements to unsafe stairs, in addition to lead paint removal and other safety-related issues.

Beaulieu said the program isn’t designed for property owners to increase the value of their homes, then sell and walk away with more money in their pockets. A lien for the amount of the repairs is placed on properties in the program. The lien lasts 15 years for moderate-income households. For low-income participants, after five years, the lien is decreased 10 percent annually for each following year.

Should homeowners sell before the lien expires, they must refund the money, with the money going back into the program to help fix other Salisbury homes, Beaulieu said.

Once a home is repaired, it becomes part of Salisbury’s inventory of low- to moderate-income housing. The state requires municipalities to have at least 10 percent of its housing in that price range, which in turn allows them to prevent developers from building large subdivisions under the state’s Chapter 40B regulations.

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