Frequently Asked Questions

Rental Housing Rehabilitation Program

How long does the whole process take?

The process should take a minimum of 3 months from loan application to closing. This is before any construction begins. The length of time can vary and depends mainly on the applicant supplying all of the requested documentation to our office and how quickly the applicant can solicit a minimum of two bids from licensed general contractors (process requires a 30 day bid period).

What does a 0% deferred payment loan mean?

A 0% deferred payment loan is a loan that that requires no monthly payment and charges no interest, but there is a recorded mortgage on the property that must be paid in full to the City upon sale of the property.

I am pretty handy. Can I do some of the rehabilitation work myself?

All work completed through the OHCD must be completed by Licensed and Insured General Contractor’s.

What kinds of restrictions are placed on my property after the rehabilitation work is completed? (Not for all Programs, just Rental Rehab)

An “Affordable Housing Restriction” lien is placed on your property for a predetermined number of years. This allows the OHCD to inspect your property to make sure that there are no Code Violations, to ensure that your property is rented to low/moderate income tenants, and that the rent you charge is affordable. OHCD monitors tenants’ rent and income once per year, and is done through the submission of a form completed by the tenants living in the “Restricted” Units.

Financial Assistance and Emergency Repair Programs

How is my income calculated to see if I meet the income guidelines of the programs?

HUD guidelines state that we calculate the gross income, before any deductions, of all household members over the age of 18 years.

Are there any grants for home improvements?

The Office of Housing & Community Development (OHCD) offers partial grants to low-and-moderate income, owner-occupants of 1-4 family properties–up to $2,500 for necessary home improvements, particularly those that will bring your property into compliance with building codes. After that, the money is given as a low- interest loan (3%). You must meet federally determined income limits.

Can I do the work myself and receive the loan?

No. Based on the program requirements, only Licensed General Contractors may bid on your project when a rehabilitation specialist from OHCD has completed the bid specifications for the proposed scope of work.

Are there contractors that work for your office?

No. The homeowner selects the licensed contractor after the rehabilitation specialist from the OHCD has completed the Bid Specification packages. The OHCD requires that homeowners obtain a minimum of two (2) contractor bids

Can I choose what type of home repair I would like done on my property?

The OHCD must first correct any code violations and comply with Minimum Housing Quality Standards. A rehabilitation specialist will determine the scope of work at his initial inspection of the property.

Handicap Accessibility Program

How long will it take before the ramp is completed?

Once the completed application is received, it can take anywhere from 1 – 3 months depending on the ability to obtain bids from contractors.

Storefront Reimbursement Program

Will I be able to receive the grant before the work is done?

No, money will be provided as a reimbursement once the approved work has been reviewed, authorized, completed and paid for by the applicant.

First Time Home Buyers

If I want to buy in my name only and I am married, would you count only my income to qualify me for down payment/closing cost assistance?

All household income is counted when determining eligibility for down payment/closing cost assistance.

My parents own rental property and I helped collect rents and did evictions; do I need homebuyer counseling?

All participants in our Neighborhoods First program are required to complete homebuyer counseling from an approved agency. Check at for the list of approved agencies.

I can only afford to buy a “fixer upper”. Will your program help me with this?

All properties purchased through our program must be considered “lead safe” and meet minimum housing quality standards and building codes. We do have funds available to help rehabilitate properties, but usually “fixer upper” properties are NOT “lead safe” and need substantial rehabilitation. Therefore, a fixer upper would not be considered a good purchase through this program. Remember, for properties built before 1978: NO peeling, flaking, chipping, scaling, cracking, chalking paint. ALL PAINTED SURFACES MUST BE INTACT.

Housing Programs - General Information

Where does the money for the housing programs come from?

The OHCD receives federal funding through the HOME Investment Partnership Program [HOME] and the Community Development Block Grant [CDBG] program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD]. In addition to these federal funds, OHCD also administers state programs on behalf of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership Fund [MHP], the Department of Housing and Community Development [DHCD] and MassHousing.

What are the income guidelines that I have to fall within in order to qualify for the housing programs?

Household Size Gross Annual Household Income
1 Person $41,000
2 Person $46,850
3 Person $52,700
4 Person $58,550
5 Person $63,250
6 Person $67,900
7 Person $72,600
8 Person $77,300

What if my income is above these income limits?

If you believe that your household income falls above these income limits, contact the OHCD, as there are other state-funded programs ( that have higher income limits that you may be eligible for.

Why are there so many rules and regulations?

Because this money comes from the federal government, and is targeted to help low-and-moderate income people and neighborhoods, we are legally obligated to ensure the funds are used for that purpose. In addition, there are federal restrictions on the kinds of activities this money can be used for and the way in which it used, and we are legally obligated to comply with those rules as well. If we do not, we run the risk of losing this funding that is so vital to the community.