The few dozen Evanston residents who have taken out interest-free loans to get rid of the lead pipes that carry water into their homes are fortunate.
The Pilot Service Replacement Loan Program, which began in 2017, has provided assistance to residents of pilot service lines who live in areas affected by the city’s major water improvement projects.
During major water improvement projects, the city automatically replaced major service lines within public property, but residents were expected to cover the cost of replacing service lines under their property. The loan program has made it easier for homeowners to replace pipes made of toxic metal, and since its inception, 39 residents have taken out a loan.
Of the 39 residents, 36 are still paying off their loans – but not for long.
On January 10, the city council passed Resolution 2-R-22, which states that on March 1, the city will forgive remaining loan balances, which currently total $1,137,134.27.
Resident Andrew Scott took advantage of the program in 2018, when the city offered him a loan to replace his service lines during a major water improvement project on Colfax Street, where he lives. Scott and his wife agreed immediately, and have been gradually paying off the $4,800 loan ever since, by paying an additional $100 a month on the water bill.
When Scott learned his debts would be canceled in March, “That’s cool!”
Evanston’s decision follows a mandate in state law passed this summer that requires municipalities to cover more costs associated with replacing major service lines, including special service lines.
Because of the mandate, which took effect this month, Evanston is obligated to cover the cost of replacing both public and private main service lines in areas undergoing major water improvement projects, eliminating the need for the city’s loan program.
Daryl King, the city manager, said the state’s mandate does not require the City of Evanston to forego loans taken in the past, but city employees decided it made sense to drop the remaining loan balances, given that the city would cover those costs in the future. Head of the Water Production Office.
King, who helped draft the decision, said the 36 residents haven’t been notified of the city’s loan forgiveness yet, but they will receive notice as soon as March 1.
“If you were one of them” [the 36 residents]That would be great news to start the year off.”
Talks about waiving the loans began last year, and King said he was happy the resolution passed.
Scott said getting a loan in 2018 was the right thing to do, and loan forgiveness is a nice surprise. “I don’t know how to feel,” he said. “I’ve never had a loan before.”