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Home-improvement loans offered to Dundalk residents


Baltimore County officials announced a $250,000 program yesterday to provide low-cost home-improvement loans for Dundalk residents, a move designed to make older housing stock in that area more appealing to families.

The Dundalk Homeowner Retention program, with funds from the state Community Legacy Program, will provide loans of up to $15,000 to qualifying homeowners in the Dundalk area who want to upgrade their kitchens, add bathrooms, install central air conditioning or make other improvements.

The idea, said County Executive C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, is that if families can afford to upgrade their homes, they will be less likely to move from Dundalk to newer subdivisions.

The program is open to families that earn up to 120 percent of the region's median income - for a family of four, that means $79,650. Interest will be deferred and payments will not be due on the loan until the home is sold or transferred. The interest rate declines every year that the family stays in the home, dropping to zero after six years.

Ruppersberger acknowledged that $250,000 won't go far at $15,000 a house, but said that is all the county was able to get from the state this year. He said the county is committed to a long-term revitalization effort in Dundalk, and will continue to seek more money for this and other programs.

"We have a lot of momentum going in Dundalk," he said.

A year ago, residents formed the Dundalk Renaissance Corp., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the community's revitalization. The corporation has received widespread financial support from residents and helped bring in a team of architects, landscapers and urban designers who helped craft a community plan.

Ruppersberger included $3 million in this year's county budget to help the area.

H. Edward Parker Jr., one of corporation's organizers, said he thinks the new housing program will help change the mood in the community. "There has to be a sign of hope, of being able to better yourself," he said. "There isn't enough open space for us to build enough housing to bring new families in. We figured this was the best way to improve our housing stock as a way to keep our children and invite some younger families in."

The program will be run by the county's Office of Community Conservation. Information: 410-887-3124.

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