Cathie Wright-Lewis has been a homeowner in Canarsie for 16 years.

Her current home was built in 1930, and over the years it’s faced wear and tear and was in need of substantial renovations – fixes that would have been a struggle for the retired public school teacher to afford.

“Recently, I was thinking about selling my house, because it had become difficult to take care of, and my kids were getting older,” she said in a statement.

Renovations completed through the HomeFix program. Photo: Jonathan Patkowski for HPD.

However, Wright-Lewis found out about the new HomeFix program, run by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, which provides affordable financing for essential home repairs in small family-owned properties across New York City.

Wright-Lewis received a $50,000 no-interest, forgivable loan to complete the rehab work on her house, including replacing a leaky roof; patching holes, pipe penetrations, and concrete cracks to keep out rodents; repairing the front stoop to combat erosion over time; and replacing all old and defective windows to improve energy efficiency 

She said the repairs were affordable and high-quality, and “will lower my maintenance costs and allow me to stay here into the future.”

HPD said the HomeFix program was expected to support more than 100 homeowners each year, with work beginning shortly on several new project. Wright-Lewis was the first recipient.

The scope of work can vary, and includes repairs to heating, hot water, electrical, and plumbing systems as well as roof, sidewalks, paving, and energy efficiency upgrades, and more. 

Residents may also be eligible for home improvements through HomeFix to improve accessibility and help senior residents age in place, including bathroom and kitchen modifications, HPD said.

HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll said the City was committed to keeping long-standing residents in their homes and communities, and making sure their homes are safe, well-maintained, and affordable over the long term.

“Under Your Home NYC – the Mayor’s comprehensive approach to helping New Yorkers get, afford, and keep their homes – programs like HomeFix will be critical to preventing displacement, maintaining housing quality, and stabilizing communities as the City works towards recovery,” Carroll said.

HomeFix provides small homeowners, including seniors and those who live in underbanked communities, with access to non-interest bearing and forgivable loans residents may not be able to access through traditional lenders.

Eligible homeowners of one- to four- family homes earning less than 165% of Area Median Income ($177,210 for a family of three) can receive up to $60,000 per home, plus $30,000 per additional rental unit on the property.

Center for NYC Neighborhoods CEO/Executive Director Christie Peale said unaddressed repairs could threaten financial stability and lead to displacement for low- and moderate-income families.

“Unfortunately, many homeowners have been forced to defer upkeep during the pandemic, and that’s why we are committed to getting them the resources they need in this time of crisis as quickly as possible,” she said.

“We look forward to serving many more families in the months ahead.” 

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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