By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
If you own a house and it needs a little loving care, spring is typically a good time to do some home repairs and improvements.
That can be expensive, but if the house is in Westminster, you may be able to get City Hall to give you a big financial helping hand with an effort called Westminster Improving Neighbohoods, or WIN.
“It’s a fantastic program,” said Tami Piscotty, Westminster’s housing coordinator. ‘The city council and city leadership saw that a lot of new houses have been built in the area, but more could be done to improve existing housing.”
Successful applicants can get $25,000 grants to fix up the inside and outside of their homes, especially if the repair would address code violations or health and safety concerns. Although the program offers grants, not low-interest loans, it does apply only to qualifying low-income householders.
The standard? Household income can’t exceed 60 percent of the Orange County median income, adjusted for size. For example, to qualify a household of four people would have to earn no more than $55,800 annually.
Where does the money come from? Under state law, every redevelopment agency in California has to “set aside” a portion of taxes raised for low- and moderate-cost housing. The Westminster program, approved by the council in October of 2010, totals $2.5 million.
City officials haven’t publicized the program until recently to allow the housing staff time to gear up for WIN, said Piscotty.
The WIN program is different from what’s done in some cities, which use their “set-asides” to subsidize affordable housing. According to Piscotty, Westminster has enough homes within the range of low- and moderate-income people, so the city has chosen to channel those funds into fixing up existing homes.
Residents must not only qualify based on income, but also own and occupy the buildings they want to repair or remodel. Possible projects could include roof repair, weatherization of windows and doors, damaged exterior paint, broken or dangerous walkways or driveways, damaged sewer and water lines.
Applications can be picked up at Westminster City Hall, the housing division offices at the City Hall at the [Westminster] Mall or from the city’s website at www.westminster-ca.gov.