Low-interest homeowner loans, residential water sampling, resumed rental inspections among topics covered at FNU

By Coner Segren

A low-interest loan program for homeowners, lab testing for residential water, and announcement of  resumed inspection for rental properties were among items presented to participants at the monthly gathering of Flint Neighborhoods United (FNU).

The meeting was conducted virtually, as it has been for months,  due to COVID concerns.

Mott Foundation and partners announce new home improvement fund

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, along with with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the City of Flint, and Huntington Bank, have announced a new fund called the Home Improvement Fund (HIF), designed to provide loans of up to $20,000 for homeowners to make repairs and improvements to their property. 

“We’ve been trying to create a system where everybody that wants home improvements, that wants home repair, can have access to financing,” said Thomas Hutchison, executive director of Genesee County Habitat for Humanity. “And this is the next evolution of that.”

The plan provides low-to-no-interest loans of up to $20,000 to any Flint residents who own and occupy a single-family home in the city of Flint. Eligibility is not dependent on income level, nor it is contingent on the assessed value of the home or a family’s debt-to-income ratio. Credit scores are also not considered. 

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the requirements for employment have also been eased. If a person filed income taxes last year, but has been unemployed since then, they would not be seen as unemployed, according to Hutchison.

Loans through the Flint HIF can be used for a variety of repair and improvement projects, including but not limited to:

  • Furnace and hot water heater replacement.
  • Roof replacement or repairs.
  • Kitchen and bath upgrades.
  • Deck and porch replacement.
  • New siding.

For more information or to put in an application, visit Flint-HIF.org or call 810-766-9089 ext. 213.

Flint Community Lab taking water samples for testing

The Flint Community Lab is open for residents who want to have their tap water tested. The lab assesses water samples for things such as lead and other toxic elements.

The lab is currently not certified, although its main goal right now is to provide a general idea of the safety of resident’s water, and provide education on how best to use water filters. “Right now, we are serving as a place of comfort,” said Dominique Strong, the community outreach coordinator for the Community Lab, “if you want to have an idea of what is coming out of your faucet, you can come and utilize that service, free of charge.”

Flint Community lab technician. (Photo source: Flint Community Lab website)

The lab began in 2018 as a pilot project for Freshwater Future, a program for students to test the water supply in their homes and community. Since then, the lab has expanded and has set an ambitious plan to test the water in 21,000 homes over the next three years, as well as provide Flint with an independent water testing facility.

(Graphic source: Flint Community Lab website)

For those looking for more information, the lab is located at Flint Development Center, 4121 MLK Avenue and their phone number is 810-875-9127.

City of Flint resuming inspections for rental properties

Mayor Sheldon Neeley informed residents that the City of Flint would be resuming rental inspections after hiring two new inspectors. The City will be ramping up inspections to make sure all landlords are compliant with building codes and quality standards. The move comes as many rental properties in Flint have deteriorated.

“We do see the need and the problem with some of the structures and some of the properties inside the City of Flint,” Neeley said.  According to Neeley, just recently, the City was forced to condemn the rental properties at Sunset Village apartments, giving the owners a week to evacuate residents.

To prevent these vacant properties from sitting and decaying, the City is also in the process of liquidating these liabilities. According to Neeley, buyers are already circling the foreclosed and condemned Sunset Village property as well as similarly dilapidated structures like Richfield apartments.

“We’re going to return [those properties] to the tax base, so you’ll hopefully being paying your taxes to a good actor,” said Neeley. “We won’t be sitting on properties, and you’re going to be seeing a lot of liquidation of liabilities through our operational audits in the City.”

Residents concerned about the state of their rental property can contact the Building and Safety Department  for an inspection at https://www.cityofflint.com/planning-and-development-2/building-and-safety/ or by calling (810)766-7284.

EVM reporter Coner Segren can be reached at csegren@umich.edu.

Author: Tom Travis

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