The Housing Partnership of Chester County (HPCC) wants area residents to know that it has several programs designed to assist low-to-moderate income homeowners rehabilitate and maintain their homes. The organization's Executive Director, Nancy Frame, appeared before Parkesburg Borough Council at its regular meeting Monday night to explain the programs to council and borough residents."[We] help people obtain and maintain affordable housing," Frame said.

According to Frame, the nonprofit organization has been in existence for 20 years, and it works in partnership with the Chester County Department of Community Development to provide grants or zero-interest loans to qualifying homeowners for the purpose of maintaining or rehabilitating their homes.

Although the organization is currently concentrating on assisting people with hooking up to a public sewer system, its programs also fund projects consisting of basic home repairs and maintenance for senior citizens, as well as structural, plumbing, heating, electrical, and other repairs necessary to address code violations in homes owned by low-to-moderate income county residents.

Qualification for the program is based on income guidelines. Senior citizens aged 65 and over who meet program guidelines can receive a one-time grant of up to $6,000 for home repairs. (HPCC grants do not need to be repaid.) Other homeowners who meet program guidelines can receive a 20-year, zero interest loan for up to $25,000 for work to correct code violations. Frame also said that funding for work to address lead-based paint can be provided over and above that $25,000 limit.

The organization has, according to Frame, just received $500,000 in funding to provide grants of up to $25,000 to people with permanent disabilities for modifications to make their homes handicapped-accessible.

Frame said the organization does all the work themselves via their own contractors, and they will work with people having problems repaying their loans through the partnership.

"If you can't make payments we don't make you pay," said Frame, adding that the organizations will put a lien on the property until the loan is repaid.

According to HPCC literature passed out at the meeting, the organization also has a first-time home buyer program as well as a program to provide credit counseling and assistance to families in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

The organization also works to provide low-income seniors assistance in purchasing home heating oil, and it is currently in the process of raising funds for the upcoming heating season. According to Frame, most of the funding for fuel oil comes from charitable contributions, and contributions have been down recently. HPCC accepts contributions from businesses and individuals to fund the program and would welcome a donation of any size.

Frame said applications for the programs can be made at any time via HPCC's website at www.housingpartnershipcc.com. Applications are also available at Parkesburg Borough Hall, and the agency can be reached via telephone at (610) 518-1522.

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