Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Oct. 21, 2020

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Septic system loans available for Clark County homeowners

By , Columbian Health Reporter
Published:

Homeowners facing costly septic system repairs or replacements can now tap into a new financial assistance program to help foot the bill.

In August, Clark County became a member of the state’s Regional Loan Program that offers loans for on-site septic repairs and replacements. Funding through the program — a collaboration between the state Department of Ecology and Department of Health — became available in Clark County in late February. Craft3, a regional nonprofit lender, administers the low-interest loans with flexible terms.

“We already have one case being positively impacted by Craft3,” said Sean Hawes, environmental health specialist with Clark County Public Health, during a presentation Wednesday to the Board of Health.

Clark County Public Health received a call in late January about possible sewage surfacing from a failing septic system. Tests confirmed the sewage leak and found high levels of E. coli, Hawes said. An inspector determined the system was a total failure and needed to be replaced, he said.

The most basic septic systems can cost $8,000 or $9,000, with the average cost for a new system closer to $15,000, Hawes said. The homeowners didn’t qualify for other financial assistance programs offered locally, but they did qualify for the Regional Loan Program with Craft3, Hawes said. The loan has been fully funded, and the homeowners are now in the process of obtaining permits and securing plans for a new system, he said.

Paying for costly repairs is one of the biggest obstacles homeowners face with septic systems, Hawes said. There are nearly 35,000 septic systems in Clark County.

While other financial assistance programs are available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Housing Rehabilitation Program, the Craft3 funding reaches residents who may not meet income, credit score or past mortgage payment criteria required by other lenders, said Carl Seip, vice president of communications and external affairs at Craft3, during the Wednesday meeting.

“We target capital to people who can’t get money through traditional routes,” he said.

Since the Regional Loan Program began in 2016, Craft3 has provided 303 loans to homeowners across Washington, with nearly half of those loans going to low-income residents. The average loan amount is $24,094.

“A big part of this is to serve low- and middle-income folks,” Seip said.

For more about the Regional Loan Program, and other financial assistance programs, visit the Clark County Public Health website, www.clark.wa.gov/public-health/financial-aid-site-sewage-systems.

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