HELP Loan Program
What is the purpose of the program?
In 2010 James City County received an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to implement their Recovery through Retrofit program. Through this grant the County has capitalized a $210,000 loan program to offer county residents (homeowners) low-interest funding to help afford the costs associated with performing energy audits and getting energy upgrades to their home. The goal of the HELP loan program is to assist homeowners in affording the most cost efficient home energy improvements necessary to achieve a target energy savings of 20%.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible?
Applicants must be residents of James City County, and own and occupy their home. All applicants will need to submit a loan application to determine their ability to pay, credit worthiness, and the status of their home loan.
How do I apply?
In order to receive a loan, applicants must receive an energy audit from a BPI certified Building Analyst approved by the County. Applicants are encouraged to pre-qualify for a loan prior to receiving an energy assessment. The costs associated with the assessment can be included in the loan amount. A $20 application fee must be included with all applications in order for them to be processed (Checks made payable to James City County Treasurer).
What can the loan funds be used for?
Loans funds must be used for residential home energy improvements that are the most cost efficient while maximizing potential energy savings, such as:
- Insulation, air sealing, and duct sealing
- Proper ventilation and moisture control
- HVAC and Water Heater systems
- Windows and doors
- Appliances such as refrigerators and stoves are NOT included, but may fall under other rebate programs.
- Renewable energy projects such as solar systems or wind generators may be considered, but on a case by case basis
Loan funds can only be applied to the energy audit, and the costs associated with the equipment and installation of the proposed energy efficiency project. Upon completion of any project the homeowner must get a test out energy assessment, the cost of which can be included in the loan amount. Contact the OHCD for more information on test out assessments.
What technical information is required?
All applicants must agree to have an energy assessment (test in) conducted on their home prior to the start of their project, and a test out after work is completed. The energy assessment will help identify the most cost efficient upgrades that the homeowner should pursue and generate data necessary to confirm the minimum 20% improvement in energy efficiency. All energy assessments must be performed by a program approved BPI certified Building Analyst, and all home upgrades must be performed by a program approved company with a BPI certified Installer on staff. Program approved companies will provide each home owner with an energy assessment report, recommended improvements, and a detailed cost estimate. A copy of this report must be included with every loan application. The technical information required for renewable projects will be determined on a case by case basis and may include a site assessment and/or energy production or savings calculations, with assumptions.
What are the loan terms and how much can I apply for?
The maximum default loan term is 5 years. The minimum loan amount is $500 and the maximum is $10,000. Special considerations may be given to renewable energy projects on a case by case basis.
What is the loan’s interest rate?
Currently program loan interest rates are 2% or less, depending on income. The OHCD may increase the interest at a later date. Once a loan has been approved and closed, the interest rate cannot change.
Why is my employment/income information a required part of the application?
While the goal of this program is to increase energy efficiency for residential homes throughout the County, we also want to ensure its long term sustainability. Because of this we need to ensure that applicants are able to repay their loans in a timely manner.
What loan security must be offered?
James City County will secure all loans with a Deed of Trust.
When must the loans be repaid?
Applicants will be responsible for repaying their loans according to a payment schedule with no prepayment penalty. Loan payments made beyond the 15th of each month will be charged a 10% late payment fee or $25 dollars, whichever is larger.
How is the application processed?
- For an application to be processed an applicant must submit a completed application, with all required documentation and application fee. OHCD will review complete applications and notify applicants whether they are approved.
- Once an applicant was been pre-approved the OHCD will help them obtain an energy assessment through one of the program’s prequalified contractors. After an energy assessment has been performed and report of proposed energy improvements has been generated, OHCD will help the applicant determine which energy efficiency upgrades are most appropriate and help them locate a program approved contractor to perform the energy upgrades.
- After the applicant has chosen a contractor and an estimate has been provided, the applicant and OHCD will close on the loan and work can begin. The County will pay the contractor directly with the proceeds of the loan.
- Any additional expenses, not covered by the loan, must be paid by the applicant.
- The applicant will be required to start making payments on the loan approximately 1 month after the loan has been closed on.
For assistance in determining if you qualify or to submit an application please contact
Amy Driscoll at:
The Office of Housing & Community Development
5320 Palmer Lane, Suite 1A, Williamsburg, VA 23188
Phone: 757-259-5344 • Fax: 757-220-0640
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