Niagara Falls offering loans to help residents fix up their homes

Mayor Robert Restaino hopes it will help those who find home repairs to be just beyond their financial means.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — The city of Niagara Falls is launching a loan program that it hopes will help residents make repairs to their homes that they otherwise can’t afford.

The loans available are for up to $15,000, which can be paid back over 10 years at 3% interest, which is less than what many banks and credit unions are charging for home improvement or home equity loans in these days of rising interest rates.

Niagara Falls is a city where the median household income is $41,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and where Mayor Robert Restaino says homeowners, struggling to keep up with their mortgage and taxes, often don’t have enough left over to make repairs, so things tend to slide.

“The loans could be for roof replacement, roof repairs, porch repairs, siding repair, painting, gutter repairs and siding replacement,” Restaino said. “These are things that may be a little bit beyond the reach of what a homeowner may have in terms of excess funds. …

“We hope that making these funds available to our residents will assist them in making the improvements that I know they would like to make to their homes, and that obviously we would like our residents to be able to afford to do.” 

The city has a pool of $390,000 from a state grant that it will use to make the loans, which means that if every applicant got $15,000, it would only be enough to repair 26 homes.

Mayor Restaino, however, expects most loan requests to be for far less than that, which would allow more people to avail themselves of the program.

Applicants have to own and occupy their home in order to qualify, which means rental properties won’t be addressed in this program. And rental properties, especially the ones owned by absentee landlords, tend to be the most derelict structures.