Portland urges landlords to take advantage of rehab program
PORTLAND — The city wants owners of multi-unit buildings to take advantage of new funding it has to help them spruce up their properties.
The city's Housing and Neighborhood Services Division plans to offer low-interest loans of up to $15,000 per unit to apartment building owners interested in upgrading plumbing, putting on a new roof or installing new windows, among several other qualifying home improvement projects.
T.J. Martzial, the city's director of Housing and Neighborhood Services, said the division decided to focus on multi-family rehabs because vacancy rates are increasing.
"When vacancy rates are low, landlords aren't interested in renovations," Martzial said. "When it creeps up, they may try to attract new tenants with new roofing or siding."
In the three years he has been with the city, Martzial said they have not had any applications from multi-unit property owners wishing to take advantage of the rehab loan program.
The new $235,400 in federal Housing and Urban Development funds can be used for virtually any improvement that isn't of a "luxury nature," Martzial said.
The loans have a maximum interest rate of 3 percent, and the funding becomes available July 1. The city plans on doing outreach this spring through advertisements to let property owners know about the program.
"It's kind of a fishing expedition," Martzial admitted.
There are some rent restrictions attached to the loans, including a five-year affordability period. Martzial said the terms depend on the amount borrowed. For example, a property owner with four units or more who takes a rehab loan from the city would have to keep the rent for a one-bedroom unit under $804 per month, including utilities.
The multi-unit rehab funding can also be combined with the city's Lead Prevention Program, which Martzial said could help owners of older properties replace windows.
For more information on the multi-family rehab funds, contact Mary Davis at 874-8698.
Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org