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Housing Enhancement Loan Program (H.E.L.P.)

General Eligibility
Single family, two-family, and multi-family dwellings in eligible Cuyahoga County communities.

Community Eligibility
Any community in Cuyahoga County that formally agrees to perform program monitoring for properties and assist in promoting the program is eligible to participate. Currently all county communities participate except Beachwood, Bentleyville, Bratenahl, Chagrin Falls Township, Hunting Valley, Oakwood, and Walton Hills.

Income Limit
There is no maximum income ceiling for a borrower to be eligible.

Owner Occupancy
Investors as well as owner-occupants are eligible. Multiple loans to non-owners may be considered commercial loans by the lender (at the lender's discretion). The Treasurer reserves the right to limit the number of loans given to any property owner.

Tax-exempt Property
Property exempt from taxation is not eligible.

Market Value Limit
Single family and two-family dwellings must have a market value less than $250,000. There is no value limit for buildings with three or more units.

Use of Proceeds
All proceeds of the subsidized loan must be used to pay for alterations, repair, or improvement of a residence that protects or improves its basic livability and enhances the property's value. Code compliance work is permitted. Physical improvements related to condominiums are permitted under certain limited circumstances. The participating municipality's building or planning department monitors to assure that the work is done and that its value approximates the amount of the loan.

Ineligible Uses
Luxury items, such as swimming pools, hot tubs, satellite dishes, and stables are not permitted. Appliances are not permitted. New home construction and refinancing of existing loans are not permitted.

Borrower's Credit
Participating lending institutions are solely responsible for lending criteria and assume any loan default risk. Therefore, all credit approval decisions are made using the lending institution’s underwriting rules.

Minimum Loan

Maximum Loan
$200,000 for single family or two-family dwellings. Buildings with three or more units are subject to the lesser of $200,000 or $20,000 per unit.

Maximum Term
Five years for loans less than $12,500 and ten years for loans of a greater amount.

Loan Subsidy
The interest rate on each eligible loan will be set by the lending institution at no less than three percentage points below the rate that would otherwise apply to the borrower (including any "promotions" or "specials" offered by the lender). In return the County Treasurer will purchase a Certificate of Deposit with the lender at three percentage points below the market rate, to be based on the bond equivalent yield of the two year Treasury (regardless of the maturity of any given CD). CD purchases will be made monthly, matching the net amount of loans extended by each lending institution. CD's are collateralized according to state law.

Fees and Charges
Unsecured consumer loans - $75 maximum allowed.
Secured consumer loan - $175 maximum allowed, including all closing costs.
Fees for commercial loans (5 or more units) may be set by the lending institution.

Application Process
Applicants apply at any branch of the participating lending institutions. The lending institution will then process the loan application and forward the applicable forms to the County Treasurer for eligibility screening. Upon dispersal of the loan, the lender notifies County Treasurer of final approval, the loan amount, and interest rate.

Other Restrictions
Borrowers must be current on all property tax payments.

Current Status
Initiated in July of 1999, the program consisted of 29 pilot communities and then expanded to 33 in 2001. In January of 2006 all Cuyahoga County communities became eligible to participate in HELP.

HELP was developed with the assistance of the Gund Foundation, the First Suburbs Consortium, the Housing Policy Research Program of the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, Calfee, Halter and Griswold, A.G. Edwards, and with the support of the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners. The program won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in Policies and Regulations in 2003.

For further information call Bruce Nimrick, Director of Community Programs and Outreach for Cuyahoga County Treasurer’s Office, at 216-443-2149 or e-mail