New Way for Housing Improvements?

I’ve only quickly skimmed through this idea, but it seems like it could be an extremely effective tool to allow energy retrofitting, solar panel installations, or many of the other environmental upgrades that need to take place at the level of individual buildings.  Right now we are relying on private lending (people taking out home equity, consumer credit, or paying out-of-pocket) to get these projects done, if people are motivated to do these things.  Along with simply being more debt, these measures also force homeowners to “recover” the value, either by living in their home for an extended period of time, or by selling their property at a price high enough to pay off the extra investment.  In the current housing market, the latter is definitely not a promising path.  This proposal, on the other hand, would allow the bond to ride with the property tax, meaning that the homeowner is not under the gun to recover the value if they end up selling – the payments go over to the next owner.

This could really help older condos, apartments and association-run developments.  As it stands, there is an alternative to private lending, if your city is willing to create a Housing Improvement District.  If it goes through, your association can then get financing through municipal bonds, or other government lending, paid for by a “fee” on you property tax bill much like a special assessment.  However, the process is cumbersome – not bad for a government program, but still cumbersome.  A minority of residents in your district (35%) can kill the project completely.  The HIA rules don’t always line up with association bylaws.  It’s a good program, but one that a direct-lending program that does essentially the same thing, like these property-tax payable bonds, is better suited to solve.

A bill needs to pass the Legislature before this could happen.  It appears that there isn’t one currently pending.  Unless there’s something I’m missing, that should change, and soon.


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