A bank teams up with a county to lend help with renovation

Who would go to a county government office to get a home-improvement loan? You might - if you lived in parts of California. Since 1981, the Contra Costa County government has been teamed up with Security Pacific Bank to offer fix-up loans of up to $15,000 for owner-occupied buildings. And now the plan is being renewed because of its popularity and local success, officials say.

Loans of this type can run to 15 years, and borrowers need pay only between 3 and 10 percent interest - depending on their income bracket and their payback ability. Sixty percent of the funds borrowed under these arrangements must be used to correct building code deficiencies or to increase the general safety of the property. The balance of the funds lent may be used for weatherization and all-around property improvement.

Since beginning this subsidized neighborhood revitalization bank program, Contra Costa County has been instrumental in renovating more than 600 homes in this manner.

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