Loans can help buy or fix home

St. Petersburg residents can apply for state cash but must meet income criteria.

Published September 25, 2006

ST. PETERSBURG - More than $2.3-million in state money is available to help city residents fix up their houses or buy new ones, officials have announced.

Anyone in St. Petersburg is eligible to apply. Qualification is determined by household income.

For example, a resident who lives alone and has an annual income of less than $30,450 can qualify for repairs. The cutoff for a household of two people is $34,800 annual income, and a household of four qualifies with an annual income of less than $43,500.

Typical repairs the zero-interest loans will finance might include roof repairs and plumbing, updating electrical systems, removing lead-based paint and making houses easier to get around in for owners or renters with disabilities.

Qualifying income levels are different for purchase assistance.

For example, a one-person household with a yearly income of $45,720 or less is eligible, as is a two-person household with $52,200 income. The cutoff for a four-person household is $65,280.

Purchase assistance typically helps with down payments and closing costs. An element of the program is geared to help public school teachers.

Called State Housing Initiative Partnership funds, the city has received such money since 1994, said Tom De Yampert, manager of the city's housing and community development office.

St. Petersburg is one of four "entitlement communities" in Pinellas County, he said. The others are Clearwater, Largo and the remainder of the entire county, including both incorporated or unincorporated areas.

"We use the vast majority of the money for home-buyer assistance, backed up by rehabilitation assistance. And we have some funds set aside for rental, or for assisting developers who are building rental units that are affordable," De Yampert said.

A special assistance area comprises Midtown, Childs Park and Uptown. Residents in those neighborhoods can be eligible for additional money, De Yampert said.