CEE’s Housing Rehab Loan Program for the City of Elk River
18 May 2023
Elk River has been fortunate to make available a program that provides invaluable assistance to housing projects: the Housing Rehab Loan program, administered by the Center for Energy and Environment. This program has played a significant role in the city's development, enabling homeowners to make necessary repairs and improvements to their properties. With its positive impact on the community, it is imperative that Elk River continues to support and uphold this program over the years.
CEE and the Housing Rehab Loan Program
The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) has a rich history originating from two separate entities. The first was the Energy Office of Minneapolis, established in 1979 during the energy crisis. The second was the St. Paul Neighborhood Energy Consortium (NEC), formed in 1985 by a coalition of St. Paul neighborhood organizations aiming to enhance residential energy efficiency. Both organizations were vital in advancing energy efficiency standards in Minnesota and the United States. Their shared vision and mission led to collaboration and partnerships, particularly in helping Minnesota homeowners and renters reduce energy costs and improve efficiency. They pioneered successful home energy financing programs, enabling more homeowners to undertake energy-related repairs and renovations. In 2017, CEE and NEC merged to form a unified nonprofit, and together they have served over 50,000 residential customers through various programs. CEE operates in multiple cities and neighborhoods, providing loans and improving residential properties through initiatives like the Home Energy Squad, Community Energy Services, and the Low-Income Weatherization Program.
Jim Hasnik is the Director of Lending Services at CEE and is responsible for administering the Housing Rehab Loan program for the City of Elk River. We asked him how the rehab loan program in Elk River has evolved over the years and what improvements or changes have been implemented to serve the community's housing needs better. To this, Hasnik stated, "The Elk River Housing Rehabilitation Loan began in February of 2019. When the program started, the maximum loan amount was capped at $25,000 but increased to $35,000 to allow for more significant home improvement projects. One of the greatest advantages of this program is that the interest rate has not changed over the years - 4.185% APR based on a loan amount of $35,000 for 15 years - as general interest rates have skyrocketed recently. Keeping the interest rate low and consistent is the best way to keep loans accessible and loan payments affordable."
Asked about examples of successful housing rehab projects in Elk River that have utilized the loan program and how these projects have positively impacted the community and homeowners involved, Hasnik said, "Since the Rehabilitation Loan Program [as managed by CEE,] began in 2019, three loans totaling $75,000 have been closed. Twenty households in Elk River have used other statewide CEE loan programs totaling over $325,000 for home improvements and energy upgrades." Before CEE’s management of this program, 13 loans had been closed for over $250,000.
CEE: Close collaboration with the City
Hasnik affirmed that CEE frequently collaborates with local contractors, lenders, and other stakeholders to ensure efficient and effective program implementation, and the close interaction largely contributed to the program's overall success in supporting sustainable housing rehabilitation. "We work closely with the City to spread awareness for this loan and CEE's statewide loan offerings. In addition to city partnerships, CEE works with the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and administers the Fix Up Loan Program and the EZPAY On-Bill Loan Program with CenterPoint Energy,” he said. "If we are working with an Elk River resident who does not qualify for the Elk River Rehabilitation Loan, we will refer them to one of these options. By creating a partnership between Elk River and CEE, our goal is to help residents find the loan that best fits their needs, and many residents have been able to access multiple loan programs to help address whatever their home improvement needs may be,” Hasnik stated.
Hasnik believes that CEE will continue to expand its strategies and forge new opportunities to support residents, businesses, and communities better as they rise to meet tomorrow's energy challenges and create a sustainable environment that serves all.
Elk River HRA: A Valuable Resource for Redevelopment in Elk River
Elk River's Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) is a public corporation empowered to undertake specific housing and redevelopment projects. Projects may include planning, acquisition, clearance, rehabilitation, and construction to provide safe housing for low-and-moderate-income persons. Contact us here for more important information on housing and redevelopment projects in Elk River.