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A new low-interest loan program aims to help lower- and middle-class Philadelphia residents repair their aging homes.

Announced Wednesday by city officials, the program — called Restore, Repair, Renew — will allow Philly dwellers with credit scores as low as 580 to borrow up to $24,999 for 10 years at a fixed 3 percent interest rate, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The loan can be used for a spectrum of home improvements: removal of lead paint, mold and radon; roof and foundation repairs; electrical and HVAC work; and window and door replacement, among others. The work must be done by a city-licensed contractor.

“This is something that is needed,” Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke told NBC10. “This will give people the opportunity to participate in, what I call, the most affordable housing program in the city — the house that you live in.”

 

The housing available to Philadelphia's middle class is aging: Nearly half of it was built before 1945. But according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, almost 75 percent of middle- and low-income earners were denied home improvement loans between 2015 and 2017.

The new loan program originated in the spring of 2016, when Clarke and Councilwoman Cherelle Parker introduced legislation to invest in Philadelphia's deteriorating housing. They proposed a $100 million bond, to be paid for by raising the city’s realty transfer tax from 3 percent to 3.1 percent. The change took effect at the beginning of 2017, adding about $200 to the tax bill of a $200,000 house when it sells.

The program begins immediately and will be administered by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority. City residents interested in applying for the loans must use the house as their primary residence, have homeowner’s insurance, and have paid their property taxes or are in a payment program with the city.

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