PENDLETON - City officials are disappointed with the number of applications received for a zero-interest housing rehabilitation loan program.

The ho-hum response could be a factor when a decision is made whether Pendleton gets a $500,000 loan for the program, said Richard Ullian, Pendleton planning director.

"We've got to show there's a substantial need in our community," Ullian said.

The program is for low- to moderate-income homeowners, and could provide loans of up to $20,000 for house improvements.

The city has received 44 applications to the program. It expected about 200.

"We know there are a lot more folks who would be interested," Ullian said.

The city has extended the deadline for applications - originally Jan. 31 - with hopes of receiving more.

"It's been a very successful program in the past for citizens of Pendleton.

We might as well see those tax dollars everyone is paying come back into the community," Ullian said.

Applications were mailed out with February water bills, which could have contributed to the low response, Ullian said.

"I think folks thought it was just some sort of flier. We wanted to use the bulk mailing rate available to the water department," he said.

Ullian said a separate mailing to the 5,400 Pendleton water customers would have cost more than $2,000.

Pendleton was awarded a $500,000 loan through the program in 1997, which improved about 30 homes, and a $300,000 loan in 1995, which rehabilitated about 16 homes, Ullian said.

Replacing windows, upgrading heating systems and making roof repairs were the most common improvements to homes under the loan program.

Such improvements can make houses more energy efficient and save homeowners money, Ullian said.

The city probably will find out if it receives the state loan in April.

Some of the 44 local applicants for loan funds didn't qualify, Ullian said.

Loans would need to be paid back to the city when the property is sold or upon the death of the last surviving homeowner.

The housing rehabilitation loan program is federally funded.

To find out more about the loan program, or to get an application, call Ullian at 966-0204.

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