News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Grants, loans available for septic work

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

State environmental officials and a nonprofit community lender are teaming up on a grant and loan program to assist Santiam Canyon and other Oregon property owners repair or replace septic systems damaged by the 2020 wildfires.

The grants range from $5,000 to $20,000, with lower-income property owners eligible for the most money. For example a homeowner with an income of up to $35,000 would be eligible for a $20,000 grant, while a property owner with $80,000 in annual income could receive $5,000. The grants are supervised by the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), use $15 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and do not need to be paid back.

Those whose grant awards don’t match their expenses also can apply for loans from Craft 3, a nonprofit community lender. Just as with the grants, the loans feature a sliding scale based on income. Although all loans are for a maximum of $24,000, those at the lower end of the income scale pay lower interest rates and can defer payments.

To be eligible for the program, which begins July 1, a property owner must live in a fire-affected zip code and be able to provide one of the following fire damage documents:

• A federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) determination letter.

• A homeowner insurance claim documenting wildfire damage

• A septic system evaluation report documenting fire damage 

• A right-of-entry document

• County verification

• Fire debris cleanup by the state or contractors’ records

Eligible expenses include the costs of repair and/or replacement of a septic system, labor performed by a licensed installer and design fees.

Ineligible expenses include costs incurred before participation in the program, labor expenses if performed by the borrower or any and all expenses for work performed by a non-licensed installer or done outside of DEQ rules. 

DEQ anticipates issuing the first grants to eligible third-party organizations (not individual property owners) beginning in fall 2022. These organizations will then accept applications for grants and loans to eligible property owners with a focus on low- and moderate-income residents and communities that were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

For more information on the Craft 3 loans go to [email protected] or call 888-231-2170, ext. 125.

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