City program puts low income families in homes

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — A federal program designed to help low-income families achieve home ownership and reduce blight in struggling neighborhoods is beginning to show progress in Lincoln Park. Don Cook, Director of Community Planning and Development, said that the Neighborhood Stabilization Program launched in 2009 has put 10 families in restored homes, and another six houses for sale to eligible buyers.

“The idea is to keep neighborhoods from sliding any further downhill,” Cook said. “It gets rid of the blight influence, thereby affecting the neighborhood as a whole and possibly increasing home values.”

The program, subsidized in part by the U.S. Office of Housing and Urban Development, is coordinated through the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency. Cook said the city identifies abandoned properties to purchase (against the competition of speculators in the market), and evaluates if demolition or rehabilitation is the better option. Under the program launched in 2009, the city purchases and funds the repairs, and sell the home to qualified, low-income buyers.

Cook said that the city has two programs available to help potential homeowners, and qualifications are based on income levels and number of people in the household. Under the program, buyers must occupy the home and not sell or use as income property.

So far, 10 properties have been purchased, renovated and sold by the city; six houses are currently available for sale and several others are in the process of being purchased or restored.

The program allows Lincoln Park to partly subsidize home ownership, although prospective buyers must meet certain mortgage qualifications. The price of the home is based on the low end of fair market value or the investment needed to restore the property.

To review available homes or qualifications, visit the city’s web site at www.lincolnpark.govoffice.com or contact Community Planning and Development at 313-386-3100.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)