Orange County backs loan program
Focuses on funding for energy-efficient homes
Tonya Erwin thinks an Orange County-backed home-improvement program is pretty cool, and now so is her house.
Erwin, 64, used the Solar and Energy Loan Fund program a few years ago to pay for a new airconditioner for the Orlando home she has owned since 1993.
“You can’t live in Florida without AC,” she said. “The first few months after getting my AC installed I woke up every morning thankful I could sleep comfortably again.”
Founded in 2011, the not-forprofit program, known as SELF, provides home-owners with below-market-rate loans for energyefficient, home-improvements projects. Erwin, who is disabled, said an energy-efficient air conditioner would not have fit in her limited budget at market rates.
The county approved $50,000 in funding last month to support SELF’s mission.
Through the first eight months of fiscal year 2019-20, the program has helped 250 homeowners finance over $2 million worth of home improvement projects in Florida.
SELF has similar funding agreements with Orlando and Hillsborough, Martin and St. Lucie counties. The city helped the program secure a $50,000 grant from the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge. The aid will help the nonprofit lender support sustainability initiatives in both Orlando and Orange County.
Since it began operating in Central Florida in 2014, SELF has done $1.2 million in lending projects in Orange County, benefiting 141 households
The program set monthly lending records in April, then again in May, despite the coronavirus pandemic, said Doug Coward, its founder and executive director.
“With stay-at-home situations,