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Tool 2: Homeowner Rehab and Curb Appeal Incentive

Tool 2: Homeowner Rehab and Curb Appeal Incentive

 

The purpose of incentives to homeowners for home improvement, repair and curb appeal improvements is to:

 

  • Make visible improvements to the housing stock;
  • Increase housing value;
  • Improve neighborhood image; and
  • Raise the standard for housing quality, hopefully to be emulated by other residents.

 

In order to accomplish the goals above, the incentives should ideally a) favor exterior improvements, b) not be income-limited and c) not be restricted to owner-occupants.  However, restrictions associated with common funding sources often compromise these goals. For example, CDBG and HOME funds may require a full inspection and code compliance (which, while contributing to the health and safety of the property, often results in only minimal improvements to the basic systems, which are invisible to the public), including lead paint abatement, be limited to a certain income group, and be limited to owner-occupants. Because of these limitations, it can be very useful to secure an alternative source of funding (financial institution, foundation, major employers, bond proceeds, dedicated tax district or transfer tax, etc.).

 

Financial incentives to individual homeowners may take the form of a full grant or matching grant, a low-interest loan, or a rebate.

 

The allowable uses of the financial incentive can range from landscaping to paint to windows, doors, siding, roofs, etc. Design guidelines may be suggested or required in order to make the greatest impact possible.

 

The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA) sells vacant lots to nearby homeowners, and through the Growing Home program and offers a discount of up to $10,000 off the cost of the lot for landscaping improvements that the buyer makes.

Go to the Growing Home program and see the detailed schedule of improvements and deductions

 

Grants and technical support may also be made to groups of neighbors, usually on one block, to implement a beautification activity that they decide on. These kinds of grant programs are usually also designed with the goal of getting neighbors to interact with each other and to adopt a sense of shared responsibility and efficacy for the appearance of the block.  The City of Geneva, New York runs a program like this annually, called The Great Geneva Neighborhood Challenge.

Go to more information on The Great Geneva Neighborhood Challenge

 

Non-financial incentives may also be employed, such as:

 

  • Free architectural design assistance (offered by the City of Geneva, New York through a partnership with an architecture firm);
  • Workshops on specific types of home improvements, conducted on a house in the neighborhood;
  • Group purchasing programs, which facilitate the purchase of labor or materials for one type of improvement by a group of neighbors (i.e., driveway replacement in Holland, MI) in order to get a lower price;
  • Paint Your Heart Out, or similar programs, that offer free or discounted paint (or a rebate on paint purchases) to any resident that paints their home’s exterior within a certain timeframe, and also offer volunteer assistance to elderly or disabled residents;
  • Discounted landscaping material and free landscape design assistance (done by a now-defunct program in Hartford, CT); and
  • Awards programs that recognize visible home improvements, such as the Best House  on the Block program run by Neighborhoods, Inc. in Hammond, IN.

 

 

 

Go to Tool 3: Marketing the Neighborhood

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