MUSKOKA - The District of Muskoka is handing out money to low-income families for small renovations – it’s just trying to figure out how it can help the most people.
The district has allocated $253,322 through the Ontario Renovates program for renovations for low income households over the next three years.
This year the district has $67,000 for the program, which will be provided as forgivable loans or grants.
The average amount suggested by the province to be doled out per home is $25,000, but Heather Moore, director of programs for the district, doesn’t think that will be the best solution for Muskoka.
“If we went with the provincial guidelines, we could technically have a couple, two or three, applications and the program would be done,” said Moore.
The district is considering allowing people up to $10,000 through the program.
Those who are eligible are low-income homeowners who need repairs such as windows, roofs, foundations, furnaces, increased energy efficiency, accessibility modifications, or to create an apartment in their single-family home. Landlords can receive the grant to increase accessibility for current tenants who require modifications.
Those with mobile homes will receive special consideration to make sure the renovation is worthwhile, considering mobile homes are already more affordable and have a shorter lifespan.
“We are suggesting that people sign a letter of agreement, and also that up to that $10,000 they sign an acknowledgement and direction that allows us to put the lien on the property, so we’re aware of the fact that if they sell that, that lien will be lifted at the end of 10 years,” said Moore.
If a homeowner plans to build a secondary suite, the district may consider a $25,000 loan that would be registered as a mortgage on title. The district would also be insured on the homeowner’s insurance policy.
The district received a one-time payment of $100,000 from the province to offset the costs.
The issue will come before district council at the end of July.
Moore is hoping things will progress following council and that the applications will be submitted and reviewed before winter.
Councillor Ruth-Ellen Nishikawa urged applicants should be “shovel-ready.”