Columbia Borough Announces New Housing Rehabilitation and Purchase Assistance Program

In Everyday Living, Opportunities on February 13, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Columbia Borough is pleased to announce a new home improvement and home purchasing assistance program, in partnership with the Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership (LHOP) and Lancaster County Housing Redevelopment Authority. Entitled the , the initiative’s goals include improving Columbia Borough’s quality of housing stock and the living conditions of borough residents. Its purpose also aims to encourage homeownership, enhance the community sense of pride and revitalize the North 3rd Street corridor.

Columbia Borough leaders pursued the partnership, the first of its kind partnering LHOP with a specific municipality for loans. The Lancaster County Community Foundation provided grant funding for the project, aimed at building or rehabilitating decent, affordable housing and revitalization within the borough.

“We know we have a great community in Columbia,” said Kelly Murphy, borough council president.

“With this program, we want to enable homebuyers and homeowners to invest in their residences. This will have a ripple effect within the area – sprucing up a well-traveled corridor at the entry to our city, spurring neighbors and business owners to update their properties and building pride throughout Columbia.”

In the first year of the effort, which begins March 1, the borough and LHOP will each provide $150,000 in funding. $200,000 will be designated for home rehabilitation improvements and the other $100,000 directly for home purchasing costs.

Home Improvement Loans ranging from $500 up to $15,000 will be available via an application process for single-family homes either currently occupied as a primary residence or that will be inhabited as a primary residence once renovations are completed. Following LHOP’s existing First Time Homebuyers Program, Homeownership Loans up to $10,000 will be available via an application process for first-time homebuyers who have not owned a home within the last three (3) years. For both programs, eligibility is
income specific, based on area median income as determined annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“LHOP is excited to partner with Columbia Borough to offer a program enhancing housing conditions and increasing home ownership opportunities,” said Ray D’Agostino, executive director of the nonprofit.

“In a real sense, the program will improve living conditions and make home ownership more attainable and affordable in Columbia. LHOP and Columbia are grateful to the Lancaster County Community Foundation for seed funding LHOP’s housing improvement initiative, which has made this collaboration possible.

Since 2014, LHOP has worked with eight homebuyers in Columbia to achieve home ownership, three of which are still in the works. With this new program, even more residents will be able to overcome obstacles to purchasing their own houses.

Columbia will be considering applications for houses in the 200 – 500 blocks of North 3rd Street and the surrounding neighborhood, including North 2nd Street. Renovations can be for the main home, but not for sheds or garages, and can include exterior façade updates or internal improvements. Staff will be available at the Columbia Life Network offices, 336 Locust St. in Columbia, twice each month to answer questions and help prepare applications.

LHOP is a nonprofit organization, certified as a U.S. Treasury Department-approved Community Development Financial Institution, able to underwrite and administer loans. Part of the program’s coordination will be through the Lancaster Housing and Redevelopment Authorities, to tap the federally funded Home Repair Program.

The initiative’s partners intend to create a revolving fund process, wherein repayment of the borrowed funds will be used to institute new housing improvement and home ownership opportunities within the borough.