5 Critical Home Repair Resources Available to Milwaukeeans During COVID-19
Even though Milwaukee ended their shelter-in-place orders on May 22, many city dwellers are still feeling the financial impact of being quarantined. This means that there are homeowners without the funds to invest in spring maintenance. Unfortunately, unattended home maintenance issues can easily turn into critical repairs that lower home values.
While there are some simple fixes that can you can tackle on your own for little to no money, there are others that will undoubtedly require the assistance of professionals and possibly carry a hefty price tag. According to BizTimes, Milwaukee County has the most initial unemployment claims in the state at 60,914. Luckily, there are multiple city programs and non-profit agencies providing services for critical repairs during COVID-19. Here are five resources available to Milwaukeeans in need of critical or emergency home repairs.
Revitalize Milwaukee is the largest nonprofit organization providing home repairs in Southeast Wisconsin – and the only one who does it for free. Revitalize Milwaukee is still operating during COVID-19 and is providing services like plumbing repair, water heater installations and repairs, and HVAC repairs for those who qualify, as well as critical repairs and accessibility modifications.
To qualify for services homeowners must meet the following requirements:
- Owned and lived in your home for the last five (5) years.
- Be up to date on property taxes or payment plan.
- Not have a current foreclosure or bankruptcy.
- Be unable to make the repairs yourself.
- Meet household income requirements and
- Be 60 years of age or older, or
- Be a person living with a disability, or
- Be a veteran.
The Neighborhood Improvement Project (NIP) is in place to provide eligible homeowners located in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) area with home repairs based on building code violations, lead reduction, or health and safety concerns. This is a great option for low-income households in need of larger-scale repairs. Their website states, “The minimum scope of work to qualify is $5,000 with a maximum cap of $24,500 per home.”
COVID-19 and social distancing rules have, according to Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, limited repairs to exterior fixes like gutter and window maintenance, lead paint remediation, exterior home painting, and masonry repair. Only emergency interior fixes are being made at this time.
Homeowner eligibility is dependent on the following:
- Must be the owner-occupant of a single-family or duplex.
- Must have owned and occupied the subject property for a minimum of five (5) years.
- Must have a household income at or below 60% of the County median (as determined annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
- Must reside within one of the 18 Neighborhood Strategic Planning (NSP) areas for the City of Milwaukee (the Community Development Block Grant area).
- Must be current on all property taxes, mortgage, and utility payments.
- Must have current homeowner’s insurance.
- Have not received prior NIP (or Home Rehabilitation) assistance from the City of Milwaukee.
The Department of Neighborhood Services’ Compliance Loan Program (CLP) assists homeowners in making home repairs necessary to fix code violations. This 0% interest deferred payment loan is due when you sell or transfer your property, or any time before that. The loan must be repaid in full, not in monthly payments. If you qualify, the city will hire its own contractor to perform the necessary fixes on your property. Funding is limited so not everyone who applies and qualifies will receive a loan.
The following are requirements for eligibility for the CLP:
- Must be the owner-occupant of a single-family or duplex property.
- There must be an observable code violation.
- The total household income must be no greater than 60% of the Area Median Income.
- Property taxes on all properties owned by the applicant my be paid in full or on a payment plan.
- The total cost of repairs must be less than the loan maximum and more than the loan minimum.
- The owner cannot be in bankruptcy.
- The property cannot be in foreclosure.
- The utility payments must be current.
- Applicants must agree to a credit check and provide all the required documentation.
The City of Milwaukee offers a four-part program through the Home Environmental Health Division (HEH) which provides lead screenings for individuals and water supplies, lead abatement by state-certified lead abatement contractors, and grants to assist with expenses related to abatement. The four programs are:
- Lead Hazard Reduction
- Lead Surveillance and Response
- Healthy Homes
- Water Quality
The Milwaukee County Energy Assistance Program is a one-time, annual payment toward your heating and electric bills. Funding is determined based on household size, income, energy costs, and is typically paid directly to the supplier.
Due to COVID-19, only phone applications are being accepted. In response to the pandemic, the State of Wisconsin Division of Administration has approved new income guidelines for customers. Effective March 30, 2020 customers are tested by 1 month of income, instead of 3.
If you plan to apply for assistance you should have the following items ready:
- Photo ID.
- Social security numbers and birthdates for everyone in the household.
- Current gas and energy bill.
- Proof of all income sources for one month prior to the month of application.
These are challenging times for many and never before has your home and safety been more important. The City of Milwaukee and local non-profit agencies are taking steps to keep you and your home safe during this extraordinary time.