Lewisville rolls out program to pay for home exterior repairs

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Housing Rehabilitation Specialist Drew Christ details the steps Lewisville residents must take in order to participate in the Property Enhancement Program at a Neighbors Leading Neighbors meeting June 30. (Photo by Dru Murray)

Meeting explaining parameters, application process held June 30

By DRU MURRAY
Special contributor

Last Thursday, the City of Lewisville’s Neighborhood Services Department rolled out the specifics on a program designed to help homeowners make repairs on their homes’ exteriors. The Property Enhancement Program (PEP) was explained during a Neighbors Leading Neighbors meeting at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater.

After a hearty welcome from Neighborhood Services Coordinator Yolanda Wilson, and a brief talk by a neighborhood leader about their neighborhood’s projects, the meeting turned to business.

Code Enforcement Officer Mark Brown explained what constitutes violations of Lewisville’s codes with a good combo of seriousness and humor. (Photo by Dru Murray.)
Code Enforcement Officer Mark Brown explained what constitutes violations of Lewisville’s codes with a good combo of seriousness and humor. (Photo by Dru Murray.)

Mark Brown, a code enforcement officer in the Code Enforcement Division, gave an explanation of what constitutes code violations. Within code enforcement zones, officers like Brown look for the following problems: 1) Overgrown lawns, 2) Inoperative vehicles, 3) Unsightly matter, such as messes that are animal related, 4) Parking on an unimproved surface, 5) Unmaintained fences, 6) Unmaintained swimming pools, 7) Presence of graffiti, and 8) Standing water.

Housing Rehabilitation Specialist Drew Christ then took the floor to explain the Property Enhancement Program. Christ said that the program was part of Lewisville’s 2025 Vision Plan, which was created two years ago to figure out what goals for the city want to achieve for its centennial. “The answer,” Christ noted, “was not old, dilapidated, rundown. We want thriving neighborhoods and high property values.”

To create thriving neighborhoods, we want aesthetically pleasing ones,” said Christ. “We don’t want missing windows; we want mowed grass, exchanges between neighbors, kids playing.” He added, “Thriving neighborhoods ensure quality of life, support excellence in the education system, and help to meet employment needs.”

The Property Enhancement Program will provide qualified residents up to 50% matching funds on exterior improvements. “Such improvements will not only improve life for them but also for their neighborhoods,” stated Christ.

Among the exterior improvements the Property Enhancement Program will help pay for are weatherization (weatherstripping and/or window replacement), painting, gutter installation, accessibility modifications (installing wheelchair ramps and widening front doors), sidewalk repair or replacement, general repair projects (siding, fascia, trim), fencing repairs (metal posts and use of pressure-treated wood), and foundation and concrete repairs, including retaining walls adjacent to public thoroughfares.

Christ emphasized that the Property Enhancement Program was a rehabilitation program designed to solve various problems that according to a handout “if left unrepaired, would lead to further deterioration, or to the house becoming unlivable.” According to Christ, PEP is not assistance for home sellers wanting to do remodeling projects, repairs that are covered by insurance, unsafe or substandard homes that cannot be rendered safe for habitation, or new homes. Christ named examples of ineligible projects: “If a color change is desired, PEP cannot help but if the paint is cracked and peeling, then yes, PEP can help. If a home is bowed in the middle, windows are boarded, it far exceeds what PEP is for.”

Other requirements for acceptance of homeowners’ applications included financial accountability (all city utility bills and property taxes must be paid in full), homeowners must own and occupy the house as their primary residence, and they cannot market, rent, or sell the property.

A first come, first served option, PEP is open to all Lewisville residents. Those who are over the age of 62 and handicapped and who live in Target Reinvestment Neighborhoods will receive priority. Target Reinvestment Neighborhoods are shown in the map.

The City of Lewisville's target reinvestment neighborhoods for the Property Enhancement Program are in purple on the map.
The City of Lewisville’s target reinvestment neighborhoods for the Property Enhancement Program are in purple on the map.

The up-to-50% matching grant the city will award once in a 12-month period via the PEP to homeowners of low to moderate incomes will be up to $5,000. Low to moderate income is defined as “at or below the 80% MFI (Median Family Income)” as shown in the chart below. Those with above low-to-moderate income, defined at an income above the 80% MFI, will be eligible for up to $1,000. Lewisville will match an investment of up to $3,000 for the replacement of private retaining walls along public thoroughfares, regardless of applicants’ incomes.

Assistance from the city is based on income. These figures are from HUD.
Assistance from the city is based on income. These figures are from HUD.

Christ said that Lewisville homeowners shouldn’t fear filling out the seven-page application. He said he stands ready to assist anyone who requests help with the process. The main components of the application are income verification, Lewisville residency verification, city-provided utilities and property tax verification, a survey/plat/engineering site plan, summary of proposed repairs, and a project timeline.

After a PEP application is reviewed, city staff members will hold a pre-construction conference with each applicant on site. During that meeting, staff members may decide that it’s necessary to expand the scope of work. “Looking at a home is like looking at a patient. Every home is unique,” said Christ.

Then a Neighborhood Enhancement Team will go through the application and issue a Project Approval Letter. The next step in the process is the homeowner calling the contractor, who has 180 days to complete the rehabilitation project.

Members of the audience at a June 30 Neighbors Leading Neighbors meeting listen attentively to the information various Lewisville staff members delivered about the PEP and other issues concerning Lewisville properties. (Photo by Dru Murray)
Members of the audience at a June 30 Neighbors Leading Neighbors meeting listen attentively to the information various Lewisville staff members delivered about the PEP and other issues concerning Lewisville properties. (Photo by Dru Murray)

Once a rehabilitation project is completed, the Neighborhood Enhancement Team will take seven after photos and the rebate will take as little as one week if sent electronically; if the homeowners opt for receipt of the rebate via check, it may take up to 30 days.

If during a rehabilitation project, unexpected problems are encountered, applicants are even eligible for an Emergency Change Order that provides homeowners up to $500.

Applicants also need not be wary of dealing with contractors. Though the PEP does not provide a list of contractors, it does stipulate that contractors provide accepted applicants with a general liability policy. Christ said, “We really want homeowners to deal with reputable companies.”

At the end of his presentation, Christ took questions from the audience, one of which was “What if a homeowner doesn’t have any savings and cannot pay a contractor upfront for the work?” Christ’s answer was: “There are contractors who will work with you if you tell them you will be receiving a grant. We recommend you ask them if they will wait for the second half of the payment until after the project is complete.” He also noted: “I have already reached out to contractors in this area and many have said they are interested. They will have to provide a year warranty. Roofing projects will have a five-year warranty.”

In conclusion, Christ said, “I hope you will take advantage of this program. There are so many opportunities to learn about things online. I am here as a resource.”

To apply for the Property Enhancement Program, Lewisville residents may call Neighborhood Services at 972-219–5099 or visit
cityoflewisville.com/pep.