Hutchinson City Council approves home improvement incentive

Jan 17, 2017

Hutchinson City Hall

The Hutchinson City Council on Tuesday approved a program to help provide interest-free home improvement loans in targeted neighborhoods.

The issue

The Hutchinson Housing Commission recommended using $35,000 from housing initiative funds to pay the interest on home improvement loans in the Southwest Bricktown, College Grove and Houston Whiteside Historic District neighborhoods in partnership with Peoples Bank and Trust.

Loans would be for a maximum of $15,000. If all of the loans were for the maximum amount, the city’s funding could pay the interest on up to 14 loans, council member David Inskeep calculated.

Qualifying

The program has no income restrictions. Borrowers need to meet the bank’s criteria of a credit score of at least 680 and no more than a 36 percent debt-to-income ratio. Owner-occupied and rental homes both qualify for the loans.

Planning and Development Director Jana McCarron said the program is intended to raise home values, so the list of qualifying projects was designed to reflect that. Qualifying projects include:

  • Kitchen remodels (including appliance updates)
  • Flooring replacement
  • Bathroom remodels
  • Bedroom or bathroom additions
  • Floor plan alterations
  • Exterior rehabilitation (including siding, windows and roofing)

Other projects could be allowed at the Housing Commission’s discretion.

What they said

Mayor Jon Daveline asked what McCarron and bank representative Mark Eaton’s expectations for the program were. Because it is unlike any other programs the city has, they weren’t able to pin down expectations, they said.

Council member Jade Piros de Carvalho said she thought it was a creative idea to maximize private investment, but she asked why it was exclusive with Peoples Bank and Trust. McCarron said Eaton had been the one to put in the work planning and getting regulatory approval, and another banker on the Housing Commission wished him luck on the program. Eaton said getting regulatory approval was the main hurdle, and if multiple banks participated, each would have to get regulatory approval separately.

Daveline asked what would happen if a borrower defaulted on one of the loans. Eaton said if that occurs, the bank would stop drawing from the city’s interest fund and take the loan into collections.

What’s next

Peoples Bank and Trust will begin accepting applications for the program in March. The program will continue through the end of the year or until funds are exhausted.

By Adam Stewart The Hutchinson News