Loans To Help Calvert Residents

By Christy Goodman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Calvert Board of County Commissioners passed a "last resort" loan program this week for property owners who need help paying for repairs to their water and sewer systems.

The program, which was requested by the county's health department, will offer loans of up to $15,000 to fix failing septic systems or pay for residents to hook up to a system nearby.

"This is a last resort," said Commissioner Gerald W. Clark (R-Lusby), the only board member who voted against the program. Clark said he doesn't think that landlords who rent out property should be eligible.

The county money will be available only to people who are denied loans from the Maryland Housing Rehabilitation Program.

"This passes the risk down to the county," Clark said. "If folks can't meet the underwriting standards of the state, they are coming down to our level."

The money will be paid to the contractor doing the repairs, and a lien will be put on the property until the loan is paid off. People who owe more on their house than it is worth will not be approved for the loans, said Terry Shannon, the county's finance director.

Commissioner Linda L. Kelley (R-At Large) said that applicants must meet certain criteria, including an income limit at or below 55 percent of the statewide median income, which was $81,700 last year.

"That is not very high," Kelley said. She said she does not anticipate "people rolling in here and taking advantage of the county."

Board President Wilson H. Parran (D-Huntingtown) said the loan program is designed to help maintain the health, safety and welfare of county residents and to help keep people in their homes. If a faulty septic system is not fixed, the house can be condemned by the health department.

"I think it is worthwhile to explore all the options you can before you condemn a piece of property," Parran said.

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