Tri-county to get $7.4M to help mitigate foreclosures
2009/03/26, 7:42 pm
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Housing officials in the tri-county area have learned they will receive $7.4 million to buy foreclosed homes to sell or rent at affordable prices.

The money comes through the federal government’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is meant to prevent blight and declines in home values in neighborhoods with clusters of foreclosed homes.

At the same time, the program increases the inventory of affordable homes for those people earning 120% of area median income, said Tammie Hoy, director of the Lowcountry Housing Trust.

State housing officials announced the award to the Lowcountry counties yesterday. South Carolina received a total of $44 million for the program.

Hoy estimates that the money will allow local housing officials to purchase about 100 homes now owned by banks. The $7.4 million will also cover the cost of any needed repairs to the homes, which might have been vacant for months. In addition, the money can provide homebuyers with assistance in making a down payment.

The money likely will flow to local housing officials by the summer, Hoy said.

By April 15, her organization and its partners must submit to state housing officials the homes they intend to purchase. The trust’s original application sought nearly $20 million for the three counties, so local officials must pare down the list of homes they plan to buy.

They’ll also update their lists of foreclosed homes on the market. Some might have sold in recent months, Hoy said.

“Which is a good thing,” Hoy said. “We are glad they are being sold.”

She emphasized that the money isn’t meant for isolated foreclosures. The federal program targets clusters of foreclosures or likely foreclosures that could bring down neighborhood values.

Hoy said the money could end up going further than the estimated 100 homes. When housing officials sell a home they have purchased, sales proceeds will be available for additional investments.

She said the original request for $20 million was ambitious, considering South Carolina received a total of $44 million for the program for all 46 counties.

The money comes through the federal government’s Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. This year’s federal stimulus plan includes $2 billion for the program, but details on applying for those dollars are not expected until May, Hoy said.

The homes would be available to people earning up to 120% of area median income. Based on 2008 data, individuals earning up to $49,000 and families of four earning up to $79,000 would qualify, though Hoy said the program might use updated 2009 income data.

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