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WATTS : Loans to Be Offered for Home Repairs

August 28, 1994|ENRIQUE LAVIN

The City Council has approved a $150,000 contract with the nonprofit Watts/Century Latino Organization to market and promote a $2-million pilot residential rehabilitation loan program.

The marketing push will allow the agency and the city's housing department to help local property owners upgrade their single-family homes, said Alvin Jenkins, the Community Redevelopment Agency's manager for the Watts redevelopment project area.

"(Watts/Century) has the responsibility to go out with a bilingual team to try to get the confidence of the community," Jenkins said.

The agency and the housing department will each put up $1 million in loans. The program will target an area bounded by 92nd Street on the north, the Century (105) Freeway on the south, Mona Boulevard on the east and the Harbor (10) Freeway on the west.

The housing department will focus its loan program in an area west of Central Avenue, while the redevelopment agency will concentrate on areas east of Central Avenue, Jenkins said.

Twenty to 30 applicants are being processed through the "long pipeline" to receive a loan, Jenkins said.

Loans are available to property owners based on their home equity, ability to repay, employment status, income and other criteria. The application process takes about three months, he said.

The redevelopment agency will provide low-interest loans of up to $30,000 for roof repairs, interior and exterior paint, new plumbing and electrical systems, new foundations and safety repairs.

Those who qualify for rehabilitation loans also may be eligible for city grants of up to $7,500 for exterior improvements.

"The Department of Building and Safety doesn't look at the condition of exterior paint or broken-down fences," Jenkins said. "With this 'free money' we are essentially trying to make an impact on the exterior of homes to make the community look better."

The grass-roots Watts/Century organization will distribute information, conduct workshops to explain program requirements, help complete application forms and provide English-Spanish translation for applicants and the redevelopment agency's staff.

"We'll have to walk many miles, knock on many doors and meet face-to-face with many residents if our marketing program is to be a success," said Arturo Ybarra, executive director of the Watts/Century organization.

Information: (213) 564-5791.

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