Sugar Land residents are now eligible to register for the Great Homes program. The pilot initiative empowers Sugar Land homeowners to invest in their community by preserving, protecting and enhancing their neighborhoods, the city said in a Feb. 8 news release.

“This is an incredible opportunity for residents who own single-family homes to update their homes and invest in the community they already call home,” said Jonathan Soriano, Sugar Land community development program strategist, in the news release. “Investing in older homes and neighborhoods is vital to pushing Sugar Land to the next stage of its success and provides the chance for residents to finally do those home improvements they've been putting off.”

The Great Homes program, which was approved in a 6-1 vote during the Feb. 7 City Council meeting after being introduced at a Dec. 13 City Council workshop, comprises two components: the Great Homes Design program and the Great Homes Update program.

The Great Homes Design program offers residents a $500 rebate for homeowners who “substantially implement” at least one qualifying exterior improvement on their home within six months of receiving a design through the program, according to the city’s news release. Residents apply on the city’s website and if approved will receive a voucher for one of two design companies: Brick & Batten or Dzinly.

Additionally, $120,000 has been set aside from the city’s general fund for the design program's pilot, which the city said will go toward funding 250 home designs as well as a potential 40 home projects.

“The process is relatively simple,” Soriano said during the Feb. 8 meeting. “You go to the website; you fill out a form using your voucher code; and participants send in a picture of their home and specify exactly what preferences and ideas, including any deed restrictions that may need to be taken into account for the design.”

Likewise, the Great Homes Update program is a reimbursement incentive encouraging rehabilitation and refurbishments of the exterior of single-family houses. Through the program, homeowners may be eligible for a reimbursement of up to $10,000 for a portion of their exterior home improvement costs.

The minimum total project cost to be eligible is $4,000, and the amount available depends on whether the home was built before or after 1994. Homes built before 1994 are eligible for up to a 25% reimbursement, while those built after 1994 are only eligible for a 10% reimbursement.

A total of $500,000 has been set aside from the city’s general fund to pay for the Great Homes Update program, which city officials said will be able to help fund approximately $2 million to $5 million in residential improvements, assuming the average project costs around $15,000 to $20,000.

Prior to casting the sole vote against the program, Council Member William Ferguson voiced his concern at the meeting about the feasibility of the Great Homes Design program.

“I just see it as a nightmare for [the Architectural Control Committees] going, ‘No, yeah, cute idea, but no,’” Ferguson said. “Even though it may be in line for what we want to do, the [homeowners associations] really need to kind of build their programs around what we’re trying to do.”

The Great Homes program is a one-year pilot program city officials said will be re-evaluated in 2024.

“This initiative is just one example of Sugar Land's commitment to trailblazing and evolving our community to build a life for our residents that is better than they can even imagine,” Sugar Land Communications Director Doug Adolph said in the news release.