What's the Role of a Housing Rehabilitation Specialist?

Helping You Decide What Repairs To Do

A housing rehabilitation specialist usually works for a nonprofit housing organization that helps people with modest incomes purchase their first home, learn how to maintain it, and be successful homeowners over the long term. The role of the housing rehab specialist is to work with existing homeowners whose homes need repair or improvement. In most cases the focus is on making sure the house meets local building codes. When the funds to make home repair loans or grants come from the government, it usually requires that all important health and safety items be corrected first. But housing rehab specialists may also work with homeowners who wish to add room for a growing family or make other improvements that are needed” not cosmetic changes.

When you go to your local nonprofit housing organization for assistance with repairing or rebuilding your home, ask for both a housing counselor and a housing rehab specialist. The rehab specialist will inspect your house carefully and help you decide the scope of work that should be done” balancing what you want with the need to bring the property up to code. This will include both the repairs from flood damage and any other work that may be required to protect your house from future storms. Meeting FEMA flood-proofing requirements will be a top priority, since you will have to show proof of this in order to get flood or homeowners insurance. If you can afford to borrow money to make additional repairs beyond these basic health and safety issues, you can work this out with the rehab specialist.

Once the scope of work is identified, the rehab specialist will give you estimates of the cost for the repairs. He or she will help you decide whether it is more cost-effective for you to make repairs, or to demolish the house and rebuild.

How Will I Afford These Repairs?

While the housing rehab specialist helps you determine the work your house needs, the housing counselor will meet with you to review your income and expenses. Unless you have substantial savings or a large insurance settlement, you will probably need to get a loan to pay for the work. The housing counselor can refer you to a reliable lender. No matter where you apply for financing, the housing counselor can help answer your questions during the application process, as well as through loan closing (when you sign all the paperwork to get the loan).

Getting the Work Done

The housing rehab specialist provides you with a list of contractors who can supply bids and guide you through the bid process.

Once the loan and/or grant and the contractor(s) are lined up, the housing rehab specialist can help manage the construction process. Depending on the agency, this may include guidance on what to expect from working with contractors, to actually coming out to the house to inspect the work that’s been completed every time the contractor wants to get paid. If there are problems as the work is done, the housing rehab specialist will help you work with the contractor to resolve the issue. Often the nonprofit organization will escrow, or hold, the loan money on your behalf and only pay the contractor when the work is done to your satisfaction. This can be a great comfort if you have never done this before.

Creating a Healthy Home: A Field Guide for Clean-up of Flooded Homes

Alert: This is a practical guide developed by Enterprise Community Partners Inc., the National Center for Healthy Housing, NeighborWorks® America, and Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans. The methods were tested on four flooded homes in New Orleans. You can download the guide for free at: http://www.practitionerresources. org/cache/ documents/54278.pdf or http://www.nchh. org/tabid/139/default. aspx?ContentID=158