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Lake Elsinore Offering Low-Income Residents $5K To Clean Their Home Exteriors

The grants -- up to $5,000 each -- will be funded on a first-come, first served basis. This fiscal year, through June 30, 2014, the city budgeted $50,000 for the program.

Grant recipients are required to continue to occupy their homes as their principal residence, maintain the property in good condition, cannot engage in criminal activity and/or create a public nuisance.  File Photo/Toni McAllister
Grant recipients are required to continue to occupy their homes as their principal residence, maintain the property in good condition, cannot engage in criminal activity and/or create a public nuisance. File Photo/Toni McAllister

This week, the City of Lake Elsinore officially kicked off its new City Home Improvement Program (CHIP), which offers low income residents up to $5,000 to improve the exterior of their home.

Approved earlier this year by the City Council, CHIP was created as a pilot program to provide housing rehabilitation grants to those who do not have sufficient funds to make necessary home repairs. To qualify, both the homeowner and property must satisfy specific criteria. Interested residents must own and currently occupy the home as their principal residence. In addition, eligible household income cannot exceed the qualifying low income limits for Riverside County as published annually by the State Department of Housing and Community Development.

“The last five years have been hard for our City and many of our homeowners have not had the money to maintain and repair their homes,” said Councilmember Steve Manos. “With this new program, we can help our residents and improve the livability, integrity and appearance of the City’s residential neighborhoods.”

The program was first suggested by Councilmember Manos following the elimination of the Redevelopment Agency to continue the City’s efforts to increase, improve and preserve the community’s supply of affordable housing. As part of the program, the City established an Affordable Housing Subcommittee, which included Council Member Manos and Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Johnson to formalize and launch the program.

Under the CHIP, eligible exterior improvements and repairs may include:

  • Roof repair or replacement
  • Exterior siding, painting and stucco
  • Fencing and/or gates
  • Sewer
  • Structural improvements including broken windows, the front door and/or garage door
  • Exterior access improvements and special features to aid the mobility of the physically disabled and/or the elderly
  • Fumigation and treatment of termites and pest control 

The grant is free as long as all conditions are met. Upon receiving a CHIP grant, participants are required to continue to occupy their homes as their principal residence, maintain the property in good condition, cannot engage in criminal activity and/or create a public nuisance. As long as these guidelines are followed for at least five years, the City will not require repayment of the grant. However, if any of these guidelines are violated, the homeowner may be responsible for the full repayment of the grant.

“Image is extremely important,” said Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Johnson “We are optimistic this program will provide the funding for much needed improvements to homes in our community and motivate others to make similar investments to beautify our City,” said Johnson.

This fiscal year, through June 30, 2014, the City budgeted $50,000 for the program from its Affordable Housing in Lieu Fee Account. The City will fund all CHIP grants on a first-come, first served basis. All applications will be date stamped and processed in that order.

Residents interested in applying for these funds, can review the program guidelines at www.Lake-Elsinore.org and complete an application packetor call (951) 674-3124 ext. 314 to request these materials. In order to be eligible for a CHIP Grant, proposed improvements must be approved by the City following a property inspection and work write-up. All improvement work must be completed by qualified, licensed and insured contractors. --Content provided by the City of Lake Elsinore

Josh December 03, 2013 at 10:25 AM
Let me get this straight. We're going to give people who have no money $5,000 to fix up theIr house? How are we going to ensure that they spend the money on the house and not on bills, food, booze and drugs? What is the oversight?
One Voice December 03, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Another wasted fund, isn't that what code enforcement is for to make sure that people are responsible for keeping their properties cleaned up? Doesn't the City already have volunteers that once a year do a City wide clean up with free dumping. This Grant isn't going to stop people from constantly dumping their discarded couches, chairs and mattresses along the sides of the road. It's Code Enforcements job to see that these item are discarded but yet they ignore them for weeks. Instead of the City welcoming and catering to the low income why don't they concentrate on doing something to fix our roads and traffic problems and bring some shopping and eating places to our town to create much needed tax revenue for our City and increase the responsible home owners property values!
American Woman December 03, 2013 at 10:04 PM
I am all for people cleaning up their property. Why do they use my tax dollars to do this? How about you pay them to come and weed my slope, that way I get a return on my investment. I could use some painting too. Sheesh!
Jeffrey Cane December 04, 2013 at 12:38 AM
So tax money is gonna give a handful of people with no money a chance to fix up their houses while all the homes around will still look like crap..... And what if they spend all the money on video games and crack instead?? Or maybe their house goes back to crap in a month? They will be required to pay a new bill so......this plan doesn't seem that well thought out LOL
Steve Manos December 04, 2013 at 03:04 AM
Several bloggers above broached legitimate concerns - your City Council considered these concerns while crafting this program. The full guidelines for CHIP require that homeowners obtain at least two bids from licensed, bonded contractors for all work proposed. Funding would go directly to the contractor for the improvements with overages to be refunded to the city. Resident-homeowners are prohibited from touching a dime of the money. A voluntary lien is placed against the property for five years. Any violation of terms or sale of the property within five years would trigger full repayment of the grant. This safety mechanism mirrors the FHA Title I loans that were popular during the '90s and is intended to prevent abuse of the program. CHIP is funded through a Community Development Block Grant, which is specifically designed for addressing blighted, low-income areas. You can check the HUD site here for specific details: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/communitydevelopment/programs. The funding for CHIP does not impact any of our existing budget priorities. Painting a home, replacing a garage door, repairing a fence - this improves curb appeal and can positively impact property values for a home as well as a neighborhood. It can provide work for our local tradesmen. It's not a panacea, but we are implementing a tool for beautifying our city that we've never utilized before.
Julian B Duron December 05, 2013 at 04:48 PM
This is not a way to address BLIGHT! I can see free pick up by Waste Management Companies at City cost, I can see paying clean up crews performing cleanup services if homeowners are seniors or disabled. But what if these properties are rentals the HOME OWNER has the responsibility of maintaining the property. With the amount of unemployed Riverside County residents Riverside should offer work for assistance programs. But giving away funds, this is not the way. Let no ELECTED TELL ME THESE GRANTS ARE FREE MONEY! Funny how my post disappeared.
One Voice December 05, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Just think how many street lights, sidewalks or landscaping $50,000.00 could bring to the city for safer streets, and to make the town look like something more then a dried up, weeded empty field. What the hell is wrong with the people that run this town, I was hoping that when the new City manager came in we had hope since he came in from Temecula, but once again there is no hope. Keep Dreamin Extreme and let's watch LE become the new East LA!!

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