No-interest housing rehab loans available for Heath, Hawley residents

  • Brian McHugh, the Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority’s director of community development, speaks to the Heath Selectboard this week. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2022 3:43:56 PM
Modified: 8/5/2022 3:40:50 PM

The Montague-based Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority is seeking Heath and Hawley residents to apply for zero-interest loans for home improvement projects.

Thanks to funding from a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the housing authority offers zero-interest loans to qualifying homeowners for construction projects that bring their homes up to code. Brian McHugh, the housing authority’s director of community development, said the goal is to support 16 projects, but only eight have been funded so far — seven in Heath and one in Hawley.

The program started in March 2021 with $876,713 and $352,778 is left over from the CDBG grant. While this particular funding can only be used in Heath and Hawley, the housing authority provides a similar program to 24 towns throughout Franklin County.

The Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority helps Franklin County municipalities finance and implement affordable housing and community development programs. It has more than 40 years of experience applying for CDBGs. CDBGs can be used for social service programs, housing assistance and development, commercial rehabilitation, public centers or infrastructure projects.

Speaking before the Heath Selectboard this week, McHugh said the housing authority can seek an extension on the grant, but the state only administers three-month extensions. The grant is on track to expire in September.

“We don’t want to get to the deadline and send the money back to the state,” he said.

A family of four that makes less than $75,000 a year qualifies for a zero-interest loan. Each applicant can receive up to $35,000, and can apply for a waiver to receive larger loans if the house needs lead paint remediation, accessibility modification, asbestos removal, historic preservation and septic repair.

McHugh said the housing authority has sent out letters to residents and advertised in the newspaper searching for loan applicants, but few have materialized.

“It’s a government program so there is a lot of documentation,” he noted. “Sometimes people don’t want to go through all that.”

Heath Selectboard member Susan Lively suggested using the extra funding to build accessibility ramps on public buildings in Heath. While McHugh said this is possible, the housing authority would need to hold a public hearing before changing the use of the CDBG.

For more information on applying for a no-interest loan through the Franklin County Regional Housing & Redevelopment Authority, visit


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