Alderman aims to replenish dried-up repairs fund

NASHUA – Last year, the city cut a fund for home repairs from $150,000 to $100,000.

Now, although it’s only January, the money has been used up. Alderman Lori Wilshire wants to add $30,000 to be used only for emergencies – such as an elderly person’s furnace blowing up.

“It’s a good use of money,” Wilshire said. “If somebody’s down on their luck and their furnace goes, what are they going to do?”

She is sponsoring a resolution to transfer the money from a contingency fund.

The money is federal Community Development Block Grant money and is managed by the city’s urban programs department.

The board of aldermen will consider the proposed resolution when it meets Tuesday night.

“We had never gotten all the way to $150,000 before,” said Scott Slattery, urban program manager.

But there were several costly home repair projects this year, including one for a woman whose husband was a soldier serving in Iraq. Her home needed extensive repairs.

The money is designated for low- and moderate-income residents based on family size, Slattery said.

Also, the money isn’t a grant, but a zero percent interest deferred loan. The loan principal is paid back when the property changes hands, either through sale or the death of the owner, Slattery said.

The amount paid is then put directly to use as a home repair loan to another individual or family, he said.

Wilshire’s proposed resolution creates an emergency fund that had never existed before, Slattery said.

In the past, if a homeowner lost heat, the money wouldn’t become available for four to six weeks, which was obviously too late for someone who needed to heat their home in winter, Slattery said.

But if the board approves the resolution, someone facing such a situation could be fast-tracked through the approval process and receive the money in a matter of a few days, he said.