Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to reapply for a housing rehabilitation program under the federal Community Development Block Grant that allows eligible homeowners to borrow up to $35,000 for critical home repairs.

Under the grant, homeowners who make 80 per cent or less of median income are eligible for the no-interest loans, which are forgivable over a period of 15 years.

The grants are administered through The Resource, Inc. (TRI) in Vineyard Haven and Bailey Boyd Associates of West Harwich. This marks the second consecutive year that Edgartown has applied for the grant. The town is currently administering a grant for fiscal year 2009, which came through last month; it includes $1 million for the towns of Edgartown, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah and another $1 million for Oak Bluffs and Tisbury. TRI grant administrator Melissa Vincent said the money will help fund 54 housing rehabilitation projects in the five towns in the coming year.

Grant writers will apply for a $1.2 million dollar grant for fiscal year 2010 for the housing rehabilitation program for Edgartown, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah. Approximately $200,000 of the grant money is targeted for child care subsidies for families making 80 per cent or less of median income. Eligible families would receive child care subsidies of up to $5,000 per child.

Ms. Vincent said the housing rehabilitation program is already changing lives across the Island. “It’s an absolutely amazing program,” she told the selectmen. “We can pretty much do anything in the house that is going to keep somebody safe and warm inside and out.” If homeowners do not sell their homes within 15 years, the loan is completely forgiven. Island contractors will be hired to do the home repairs. “We’re actually pumping all of this money into the Island economy,” said Ms. Vincent following the meeting.

“It’s not costing the town a penny,” said Bailey Boyd Associates founder Alice Boyd. “There is some work for the town, but no money spent.”