Wallonia steps up fight against poverty with new zero-interest loans

Wallonia steps up fight against poverty with new zero-interest loans

Wallonia’s Government has decided to merge two existing zero-interest loan programmes and introduce two new ones as part of its efforts to empower vulnerable persons. Ecopack and Renopack, two regional programmes that offer interest-free loans for renovations and to make homes energy-efficient respectively, will now become one in order to simplify and enhance the provision of financial assistance to low-income persons.

At the same time, two new interest-free loan schemes will start in 2019. One will be used to finance work done to adapt homes to the needs of handicapped persons. The other will provide financing to first-time home buyers.

The measures were announced on Thursday by Wallonia’s Ministers of Housing, Valérie De Bue, and Energy, Jean-Luc Crucke.

Ecopack and Renopack were designed for households wishing to renovate their homes or make them energy efficient but lacked the money to do so on their own. However, they only allowed households to borrow up to 30,000 euros. With the fusion of the two programmes, each household can now borrow up to 60,000 euros.  The idea is “to enable households to undertake more renovation works and thus favour the renovation of old homes so as to reach the minimum standard,” the ministers said.

The maximum loan term has now been increased from 15 to 30 years, “which should make the savings on energy more or less equal to the monthly loan payments, making the investment budgetarily neutral,” they added.

Moreover, the premiums will be pre-financed since the amounts will be advanced by the lending institution, which will then recover them from the regional authority.

The Brussels Times

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