The Milton City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved starting a program that will help residents fund exterior home improvement projects.

The residential exterior improvement program will provide matching grants up to $5,000 for qualifying residents looking to improve the exterior of their homes with projects that would make aesthetic improvements visible from a public right-of-way, City Administrator Al Hulick said.

The program is similar to the city’s façade program that offers grants to local businesses. The city has given 30 façade grants since the program’s inception in 2005, Hulick said.

A property eligible for the residential program must exist in or be within a half mile of one of the city’s tax increment finance districts because the program will be funded by TIF dollars, Hulick said.

Most city properties meet that requirement, Hulick said. A map the city provided showed the only areas not eligible for the program are on the city’s far north side.

Other criteria for program applicants include:

  • The home must be more than 25 years old.
  • The homeowner must have lived in the home for at least five years.
  • The assessed value of the home must not exceed 125 percent of the average home value in the city.

The city’s average home value is $153,000, so homes assessed at more than $191,500 would be ineligible.

Specific parameters for eligibility will keep people from taking advantage of the program, Hulick said.

For instance, requiring homeowners to have lived in a home for at least five years prevents house flippers—people who buy, renovate and resell properties—from using the program, Hulick said.

There will be no upper or lower income limit for applicants. Hulick said the program could help people who might otherwise struggle to pay for home improvements. The program could also help residents whose homes are not up to code.

Mayor Anissa Welch considered the program an investment in the community.

To earn the grants, according to a city memo, homeowners will have to:

  • Secure a building permit.
  • Submit at least two contractor proposals.
  • Begin the project within six months of the grant approval.
  • And complete the project within one year of approval.

The grant program will give homeowners up to $25,000 annually. A starting date for the program has yet to be determined, Hulick said.

All program applications will have to be approved by the city’s community development committee and the city council.