A unique loan program in Shoreview geared to help residents purchase energy efficiency upgrades has seen a bump in applications, after a slow start this summer.

Tom Simonson, assistant city manager and director of community development, said Shoreview's economic development authority set aside $300,000 for the program, which means 15 loans can be granted for the maximum $20,000, or more smaller loans.

"There's a high percentage of our housing stock that's 30, 40 years old," he said. "This energy improvement loan program is an alternative for those that might be considering some real basic improvements to their home."

Marie Malrick, program administrator for Greater Metropolitan Housing Corp., which is contracting with Shoreview to oversee the loans, said the program started off slowly this summer, but five applications have come in recent weeks. Malrick said she closed the first loan on Sept. 14, and the others are still being processed.

"We're hoping this loan program really touches a good segment of our community," Simonson said.

Heating and cooling systems, insulation or more efficient windows, doors and hot water heaters are eligible for loan money.

Malrick said her organization administers only one similar program -- Anoka County funds $10,000 loans with federal Housing and Urban Development money. The county began issuing the loans in May 2009 and has granted 13 to date.

Because the loans are smaller and for items that often wear out in 15 years, they are forgiven in the 11th year if borrowers remain in their home through the 10-year term, said Karen Skepper, Anoka County community development manager.

Similarly, Shoreview's program forgives the accrued interest on its loans if the resident remains in the home for the duration of the loan, Simonson said.

The repayments from the initial loans will replenish the fund like a revolving door, he said.

Emma L. Carew • 651-735-9749