'Good for the neighborhood'; Foreclosure fix-up program makes homeownership easier

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The Grand Rapids Press
By: Matt VandeBunte
May 3, 2010

WYOMING -- Having rented housing the past nine years, Cassandra Kidder was eager to get her family into their own home. But the foreclosure homes she looked at needed some tender loving care.
So did a four-bedroom, 1,506-square-foot, two-story house at 960 40th St. SW, until the city put $104,515 into the property as part of a Neighborhood Stabilization Program funded with federal stimulus money.

Now, most of the flooring and a few windows are new. The roof is repaired, the paint fresh, the detached garage resided and Kidder, a mother of two girls, is moving in. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned 11 a.m. Tuesday at the home.

"I'm, like, beaming," said Kidder, a restaurant server. "I honestly didn't think (home ownership) was ever going to happen.

"We went and did some furniture shopping yesterday with my tax refund. I can't wait to start weeding and putting down some mulch."

Kidder, 27, is the first buyer of a home through Wyoming's program, which plans to acquire and repair 18 single-family foreclosure homes with the $1.3 million federal grant. The city already has nine properties. Contractors are hired to rehabilitate the houses, which then are re-sold at a discount to buyers who meet income and credit requirements.

Wyoming has an estimated 300 homes in foreclosure, but officials hope repairing 18 of them will have a spin-off effect on neighboring properties.

"It gets vacant properties into taxpayers and the house is fixed up to code," said Patrick Gaffney, community development coordinator. "The properties are fixed up for at least 20 years so they're good for the neighborhood and good for Wyoming."

The income of eligible buyers can range as high as 120 percent of the area median, or $81,800 for a family of five. Still, Wyoming lacks enough interest to fill the homes it's renovating, Gaffney said.

Kent County, which got $3.5 million in federal funds, is working through five area housing developers to rehab, market and sell the houses. The list of nonprofit and for-profit companies includes LeeKitson Homes, MoHawk Construction Group, Inner City Christian Federation, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County and Lighthouse Communities Inc.

So far, seven rehabbed houses have sold in Grandville, Kentwood and Wyoming, plus 12 acquired and in various stages of repair, said Stephanie Gingerich, program manager.

Grand Rapids got $6.2 million to buy and rehabilitate foreclosed and abandoned houses. A city website lists 43 properties under redevelopment.

In Kidder's case, which Gaffney called a "pilot" that will differ from future deals, Wyoming spent $104,515 on the property, including acquisition, rehab, lead-based paint removal, inspections and the city's management fee. The property then was appraised at $89,000.

Kidder has a mortgage of about $30,000 and a city-held second mortgage of about $60,000 will disappear after 10 years. She need not make any principal or interest payments on the city-held mortgage.

"We're getting a really good deal," Kidder said. "I've been telling everybody I know (about the program). It's so great, especially for young families who wouldn't otherwise be able to (buy a house). I love it."

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This page contains a single entry by CFED published on May 6, 2010 3:28 PM.

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