The Washington Examiner

WASHINGTON (AP) — Outhouse not cutting it anymore? Maryland has a loan program for homeowners who want to install indoor plumbing.

Low-income Maryland homeowners can apply for low-interest loans under the Maryland Indoor Plumbing Program to pay for items like wells, septic tanks, connections to septic systems and purification systems.

“You go to western Maryland, you go to the Eastern Shore, you go to other places that are not around your major metro areas and there are a lot of people who are of lower income who don’t have adequate indoor plumbing,” said David Klingler, program director for special loans with the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development.

The program is used, but not extensively, according to data from the recently opened data portal StateStat. In the first nine months of 2012, the most recent data available, 13 loans were approved for a total of $120,603.

The numbers don’t paint the complete picture, said Klingler, because sometimes indoor plumbing is included in other housing rehabilitation projects.

While the loans do provide toilets for people currently using outhouses, that’s not a majority of the work that is covered.

“Most of the things that we do at this point in time relate to septic and drain fields and to a certain degree connection to public water,” said Klingler. “We only have had in the past a few where there was no indoor plumbing facility, but those as we’ve seen are rare.”

Households with an income at or below 80 percent of the statewide or Washington metro-area median — $70,004 and $63,124 respectively — are eligible for the loans, which can be for up to 95 percent of the property’s value. The minimum interest rate is 4.5 percent, though Klingler said that is based on the homeowner’s ability to repay the loan and some are interest-free.

Maryland’s neighbor across the Potomac offers a similar program to install or renovate indoor plumbing.

Virginia’s Indoor Plumbing Rehabilitation program offers zero-interest loans to substandard housing where indoor facilities don’t exist or are broken. However, the loans are available only in certain locations and most of northern Virginia — with the exception of Loudoun County — isn’t eligible.

Virginia will sometimes forgive the loan, if a homeowner is unable to pay, but Maryland will not.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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