(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the lack of safe, decent, sanitary and affordable owner-occupied and rental dwellings is one of the most serious problems facing this state and that a major contributing factor to this problem is the deterioration of the state's existing housing stock; that these deteriorating dwellings exist in both the urban and rural areas of the state; that a disproportionate number of owners of these deteriorating dwellings are older, less affluent and otherwise less able to afford the expense of the remodeling, repairing and rehabilitating of their residences necessary to maintain such residences in a sanitary, safe and decent condition; that because of the lack of acceptable loan collateral, the age of their residences and the location and age of the neighborhoods in which their residences are located, many of such owners have not been able to borrow funds necessary to effect such remodeling, repair and rehabilitation; and that some of such homeowners who have been able to obtain funds for such purposes have been able to do so only upon rates of interest and upon other terms and conditions which are particularly onerous and disadvantageous to such owners.
(b) The Legislature further finds and declares that the assistance authorized in this article will provide, and will encourage private lenders to provide, to such owners, more readily and at rates of interest and upon other terms and conditions significantly more favorable to such owners, the loans necessary to finance the cost of such remodeling, repair and rehabilitation.
(c) The Legislature further finds and declares that the powers granted to municipalities and counties in this article will enable them to maximize the use of federal programs for housing rehabilitation.
(d) The Legislature further finds and declares that it is manifestly in the public interest to foster the pride, self-respect and esteem incident to home ownership and to encourage and assist in the maintenance of residences, both owner occupied and rental, in a safe, decent and sanitary condition; that without the assistance authorized in this article, there will be continued deterioration of housing with the resultant proliferation of slums, higher crime rates and general decline in civic pride, public spirit and the quality of life, with all of the public cost, direct and indirect, attendant thereon; and that accordingly by providing such assistance, any municipality or county will be acting in all respects for the benefit of the people of the State of West Virginia and shall thereby serve a public purpose in improving and otherwise promoting their health, welfare and prosperity. In order to carry out the general purposes stated herein, the Legislature further declares that the governing body of any county or municipality shall, insofar as it may deem reasonable and proper, give preference to the rehabilitation of owner-occupied dwellings when making grants or loans under this article.