Westfield bringing back WHIP initiative

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Families who need repairs on their homes but don’t have the money may get assistance from the city soon.

Westfield city officials have officially brought back the Westfield Housing Improvement Program (WHIP), to help provide low- to moderate-income households funds to make the improvements or housing code upgrades their homes need. The program, which is lottery-based, will provide loans of up to $15,000, that have a potential to be forgiven after 15 years.

“There were a lot of people who showed interest in this program and we can afford to bring it back,” community development director Peter Miller said.

The program is funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as grants from the state’s Community Development Block Grant Program.

Homeowners are eligible if they meet the 2016 HUD income limits, which can be found on the HUD website. The program will give highest priority to roofing projects, but projects of any improvement will be considered. All consideration of projects prior to the lottery selection will be done by the WHIP rehabilitation specialist, who has not been specified, along with the Westfield Office of Community Development.

Those eligible can receive $15,000 for a project, and in certain circumstances $20,000 may be available.

The program will work by placing a lien upon the property that requires the repair or upgrade. If the homeowner resides in the property following the improvement for 15 years, then the loan is completely forgiven, but if the homeowner gives up ownership prior to the 15 years, then there is a sliding scale of money owed back to the city.

The program is not currently accepting applications but notifications will be sent out once it is.