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New program helps low income families afford new septics

The Kitsap County commissioners received a report Monday about a cooperative program designed to finance new septic systems for people who cannot afford the upgrade.

“This program works,” said ShoreBank Enterprise Cascadia Septic Program Manager Terry Hull. “Sometimes people are constrained from doing the right thing, this makes it possible.”

The $6 million program is financed by state and matching private sector funds. The county doesn’t provide financial support, but supplies some administrative assistance.

Hull said the program has five objectives: Reduce the pain of investment, eliminate tension between regulators and users, increase property values, strengthen local businesses and improve water quality.

Property owners who are stuck with a failing septic system can apply for the loan, with terms tied to their income (the average is $15,000).

The lowest-end loan, available to household incomes less than $26,566, does not require a monthly payment but must be repaid with 2 percent interest when the property is sold.

Any property owner can apply for the loan regardless of income. At the top end, families making more than $44,276 a year would pay 6 percent and a monthly payment of $129.

“This is a great program,” said Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown. “We are always talking about infrastructure, and are looking for ways to think out of the box to provide it. This program can really have an impact, because every public dollar put into this is magnified.”

“This is a good way to get property owners to protect the water supply,” North Kitsap Commissioner Steve Bauer added. 

The program is only six months old, but has already constructed 20 systems for low-income Kitsap County property owners.

Hull said it is on a path to exceed its original goal, to construct 1,000 systems in the next 10 years.

The Kitsap County Health District estimates more than half of county residents do not live within sewer districts and use septic systems.

To apply for a septic repair loan, go online to www.sbseptic.com, or call (360) 427-2875.

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