BMAC helps people stay in homes with repairs, replacements
- Oct 19, 2020
Often a few repairs are what is needed. Some small, some large, BMAC can provide help for those who qualify. BMAC offers a deferred loan program to qualified applicants needing those home repairs.
Terry Keller, assistant housing director, said there are two components to the Home Repair Programs, offered as funding allows.
One part is funded by the city of Walla Walla and is only for those living within the city limits.
Another section is state-funded by the Department of Commerce and applies to outlying areas, as well as Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties. “Everything around us is covered,” Keller said.
“In a nutshell, both programs have the same rules, you have to be low income and qualify by filling out a lot of paperwork. Once you’ve passed the qualifying stage we do an auditing of the home to assess what’s needed: a new HVAC system, plumbing — or if you have a leaking roof. We want to keep people in their homes,” Keller said.
The cost of a new roof or the replacement of an HVAC system can be quite high, but the result of not addressing the problem can be worse.
“These are not grants, these are loans,” he said. “A lien is put on the home. It doesn’t ever come due.” The lien goes with the house when it is sold, to be paid by the purchaser. Then money goes back to BMAC where it is made available for more repairs.
The response to the repair program and deferred loan option has been very enthusiastic. “We’ve had a huge response inside the city, more than outside. With COVID, everything shut us down. We are just starting now to safely visit homes. Honestly, people didn’t want us in their homes and we didn’t want to be there either,” Keller said.
Things are picking up now, home visits are ongoing and the response to the program is gearing up, pandemic or not. Keller said he is more optimistic now that he’s seeing things improve.
“In March and April things were pretty fragmented. I see it getting back together. We have the PPE, people feel more comfortable. We stay 12 feet away, our clients are senior citizens, we have to protect them. We have remote wash stations in our vans. It’s getting a lot better. At the food bank I used to see lines of cars. Now it’s running like a well-oiled machine. I’m seeing shorter lines. I think there was panic in the beginning but we’re getting along. It’s getting better.”