Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fewer homes to be rehabilitated due to smaller grant

The city is going to under the partnership of another government generated organization, the U.N.A., purchase homes in areas deemed undesirable by many so they can redevelop these homes and resell them. Of course the occupant is only purchasing the house not the property as they will remain in trust under the cities management and U.N.A. This means that property taxes will remain stagnant in these homes and those who live in them will be able to use the services the rest of us are paying for in terms of infrastructure, schools, and services.

Springfield won't be able to rehabilitate as many foreclosed homes as initially planned because a grant to fund the project came in much smaller than requested.

The city will purchase the properties, but the Urban Neighborhoods Alliance will manage the homes' rehabilitation and eventual sale.

City Planner Ralph Rognstad said the city applied for $2.8 million in federal grant money but received $1.5 million.

"We initially hoped to do 30 homes, but now we'll maybe be able to do 20 with this new amount," Rognstad said. "We hope they'll release the funds to us by the end of the year so we can get started."

The money will be used to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed homes in the north-central part of the city and then sell them to lower-income home buyers.

The money is part of a nationwide federal Housing and Urban Development effort to help slow the detrimental impact of home foreclosures on neighborhoods.

Rognstad said it's too early to know exactly how many foreclosed homes will be part of the program.

"It depends on how much we can acquire them for," he said. "We can't buy them unless they're at least 15 percent under their appraised value."

To make the houses more affordable to lower-income buyers, the land on which the homes sit will be placed in a tax-exempt "land trust" and leased at minimal cost to the homeowner for 99 years, renewable for another 99 years.

The homes would be available to people earning no more than 120 percent of Springfield's median income, which, for example, is $51,400 for a family of four.

People with higher incomes wouldn't be allowed to participate.

Springfield was competing with the rest of Missouri for a share of $42.6 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants.

Rognstad said the state Office of Economic Development decided to reduce individual cities' grants so there would be more money to spread around the state.

The portion highlighted is there because this is FEDERAL TAX DOLLARS and as such this money SHOULD NOT be dispersed as the government is in enough debt that they should NOT add into it further

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