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Community Action Team offers financial assistance to income-qualified homeowners and renters for safety improvements, home repairs

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - The Community Action Team offers a variety of resources to help income-qualified families help pay for home renovation and repair work.The cost of major home renovation, repair or maintenance can be daunting, deterring some homeowners or renters from pursing projects.

Community Action Team, a nonprofit serving Columbia, Clatsop and Tillamook counties that provides resources to help people become self-sufficient, offers access to a number of financial assistance programs to help make home renovations, safety repairs and maintenance projects feasible for income-qualified families.

Dan Brown, CAT's executive director, and Beverly Danner, the nonprofit's community investment director, recently highlighted some of the program's available to Columbia County homeowners and renters. For more information, contact CAT at 503-366-6562.

Housing Rehabilitation Program loans

Homeowners who want to address critical safety improvements on their homes can apply for a deferred loan program CAT utilizes called Communities on the Block.

Homeowners can apply for loans to pay for roofing repairs, home foundation work, installing new siding, upgrading electrical work, and other similar projects. Seniors, or those with limited mobility, can also explore home modifications to improve accessibility.

The loans offer a zero percent interest rate and is deferred until the home is sold, or the title transfers ownership, Danner explained. The average loan is deferred for about seven years, but some recipients have had loans deferred for close to 20 years, she added.

Self-Help Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program

Looking to do some of the home repair work yourself? This program allows residents to complete projects under the guidance of a construction supervisor, while doing some of the work themselves. Homeowners can qualify for up to $20,000 in grants or deferred interest loans — or a combination of grants and loans — depending on circumstances, which can be used to pay for needed home repair materials or subcontractors for complex work with electrical or plumbing projects, Danner added. About 12 families to date have taken advantage of the program and the average project cost has been about $16,000.

Healthy Homes Program

This program is offered in partnership with Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization and is aimed at making homes healthier for residents. Danner said they are often trying to identify things in the home environment that are making people sick or might pose a health or safety hazard. That can include anything from fixing ventilation to removing tripping hazards by repairing or removing carpets to provide a safe walkway. Renters and homeowners can apply for assistance through this program

Other programs and tips

CAT also offers a number of grants for emergency repairs and weatherization to help improve energy efficiency in the home. Renters and homeowners can apply for weatherization grants.

When it comes to long-term home preservation, avoiding excess moisture is key, Brown added.

"Nothing deteriorates a home faster than water intrusion," Brown said.

As a general tip, Brown and Danner recommend maintaining your roof, clearing gutters regularly, monitoring for flash leaks, and not letting vegetation grow too close to the house, which can increase the likelihood of mold. They also recommend changing furnace filters regularly and cleaning the filters in ductless pumps for safety and energy efficiency.

"We also stress keeping smoke detectors updated and installing carbon monoxide detectors," Danner added.

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