Stanislaus County has started to accept loan applications from rural homeowners who need to replace dry wells.
Application forms for the Emergency Domestic Water Financial Assistance Program were posted Friday on the county’s home page at www.co.stanislaus.ca.us. The Board of Supervisors approved the program more than two weeks ago to offer low-interest loans to residents contending with falling groundwater levels. The cost for a new well and pump runs around $20,000.
Some owners, including seniors on a fixed income, have lived for months without water to their homes. Some don’t have the cash or can’t obtain a bank loan for a new well. Getting an appointment with a well driller is taking three to six months or more.
The county loan program targets owner-occupied residential properties in unincorporated areas. Households with annual income up to $83,322 are eligible.
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According to the program materials, the loan assistance is not for unreasonable well upgrades, previous repairs or improvements beyond what’s needed for a drinking water supply.
The maximum loan amount is $20,000 and the interest rate is 1 percent, with repayment expected over five to seven years.
The Housing Authority of Stanislaus County will process the applications and collect the loan payments because of its experience with government housing programs. The county is making $200,000 in loan money available and will stop the program when the funds are exhausted, though county leaders could consider another round of funding.
The county wants to see a substantial amount of paperwork from applicants, including a federal income tax return, paycheck stubs or Social Security income verification, mortgage statements, copy of homeowner’s insurance, a recent bank statement and credit report authorization.
Keith Boggs, a county assistant executive officer, said homeowners will need two estimates from certified well drillers. “Most of the people who are in this dilemma are already getting estimates” from the drilling industry, he said.
People with questions about the program may call Mary Ramirez of the Housing Authority at (209) 557-2007.
KUDOS FOR MENTOR PROGRAM – The California State Association of Counties has recognized Stanislaus County employees who volunteer their time to mentor schoolchildren.
The Employee Mentor Program is one of 12 programs to receive a 2014 Challenge Award from the statewide organization that represents the 58 counties in California. The annual awards recognize innovative and cost-effective programs developed by small to large counties. Stanislaus was one of two counties with a population between 200,000 and 700,000 to earn Challenge Awards this year.
County employees visit schools twice a week to work individually with students who are falling behind. As of January, participants had invested 22,600 hours at local schools during the 15-year life of the program.
About 60 percent of the mentors are county employees; other participants are volunteers from the community.
Merced County’s Leadership for Life Program earned a Merit Award from CSAC.