Melisa Johnson wants to help people stay in their homes.
But the program administrator of Lambton Renovates is confused why people don’t seem to want her help.
The Lambton Renovates program has been around in some form for a number of years. It gives homeowners up to $15,000 in the form of a forgivable loan for renovations for things such as roofs, windows and electrical problems.
“It’s for things which will help people stay in their home, such as a leaky roof that needs to be fixed or windows and doors; not so much upgrade a kitchen – it’s not designed for cosmetic improvements,” she says.
The loan is forgiven if you stay in the home for 10 years. If you sell the house, you pay back the money based on how long you’ve been there since the renovation.
There is also a $5,000 grant available to homeowners who need to make their homes more accessible with items such as a ramp or chair lift.
And Johnston says people may be surprised to learn the loan is not just for very-low income homeowners. For example a family of five with an income of just over $81,000 is eligible for the loan.
“We have a lot of elderly people who take advantage of it after hearing about the program from Lambton Elderly Outreach.
“We have an elderly couple right now going through the program which needed electrical work done that could have render their home uninhabitable,” she says. “But you don’t have to be at risk of losing your home to take advantage of the program – it doesn’t have to be a desperate; as long as funds are available and they apply, they are eligible.”
But Johnston says lately people haven’t been applying. Lambton has $250,000 each year to distribute with the federal program. That’s enough to help at least 18 homeowners. So far this year, there have been only three projects applied for and approved.
“I really think we’re not getting the demand in the program because people are not aware of it,” she says adding by talking to The Independent she hopes people will consider the program for themselves or an elderly neighbour in need.
“It is sad when you hear of a senior who struggled to get money for a stair lift when they could have accessed that grant with no strings attached.”
“I’m hoping maybe the little old lady in her home – maybe she won’t read it, but the daughter will …or people will pass it on to people who might need it.”
Johnston is hoping to complete 15 more projects this year and have a small waiting list to start 2016.