Hammer time? Pittsfield launches no-interest loan program to gussy up home exteriors | Local News

More than two years ago, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer proposed a no-interest loan program to help city residents fix up the outsides of their homes.

Tyer outlasted objections from some on the City Council and saw the program win approval last November with twice the funding originally proposed.

And now, homeowners can apply for help, tackling deferred maintenance that risks weakening the value of their properties.

The program, At-Home in Pittsfield, officially launched this week. It provides money for exterior work, including things like new windows and doors, and repairs to porches, chimneys and siding.

To be eligible, people have to meet income rules and have owned their homes, and lived in them, for at least two years before Jan. 21.

The no-interest loans will be forgiven as long as the homeowner doesn’t move away within seven years, according to the program’s description when it went before the City Council last fall.

Application details are on the city’s website, cityofpittsfield.org. The program is managed by the Department of Community Development, which can be reached at 413-499-9368.

In a statement Monday, Tyer said she hopes the program benefits people who don’t feel financially able to invest in their properties.

“At-Home in Pittsfield has the power to transform our community — house by house, block by block,” she said. “The unfortunate reality is that some lack the necessary financial resources.”

The city has allotted $500,000 to the program. The household income of participants cannot exceed 120 percent of the median area income. As of November, that figure was $106,560 for a household.

Money is available on a first-come, first-considered basis and cannot top $25,000 for any one household.

Applicants will be asked to work with their current mortgage lenders. Participating lenders are Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, Lee Bank and Pittsfield Co-op Bank, according to Tyer’s office. People who don’t have a lender will apply for project money from the city.

When she outlined her program in early 2019, Tyer noted that 43 percent of the city’s housing stock was built before 1939.

By design, 60 percent of the money will be loaned to homeowners in the West Side and Morningside neighborhoods. The remaining 40 percent will be allocated for investments in homes anywhere else in the city.