This is a republished article from the Free Press by Ralph Maupin and Art Daniels
RESIDENTIAL RECYCLING: Taylor program will put foreclosed HUD houses back on the market
December 2, 2007
BY SUZETTE HACKNEY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
The Downriver city of Taylor is getting into the real estate business.
On Wednesday, the city took possession of 11 houses previously owned by the federal government. The price tag: $1 each.
In the "Taylor Cares" program, 11 houses will be rehabilitated and then sold to low- to moderate-income individuals or families.
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's underused dollar program enables local governments to purchase for $1 homes that have been on the market for at least six months. Most of the HUD homes have been acquired through foreclosures.
"We wanted to combat blight, revitalize the neighborhoods and reduce the number of vacant homes in the city," said Jon Belanger, Taylor's community housing coordinator. "Our plan is to sell them at a low market rate and not hold on to them for very long. Our goal is to help people become proud homeowners."
Open to nonresidents
Anyone can apply to purchase the Taylor homes, although there are restrictions, including that one person in the family must have had a full-time job for at least two years. Being a current Taylor renter or homeowner is not required.
Last month, the city also applied to purchase eight more homes. The appraised value of the 19 homes: $1.6 million. The ultimate goal is for the city to take possession of all the estimated 70 empty HUD homes within its boundaries. The two- and three-bedroom houses are scattered throughout the city.
"It makes the community a better place to live, said Taylor resident Marilyn Staten, 53. "We need to have those houses filled up instead of sitting there for crime to happen. It's a great idea for people to be able to buy them at a reasonable rate. The way things are going in Michigan is really terrible right now. We have so many foreclosures, and people losing their homes. Anything that can help get us out of this situation will be helpful."
The first wave of homes will be refurbished and likely available for purchase by early spring. The Taylor Housing Commission cut the government a check for about $13,000 last week to cover closing costs and some back taxes. The city plans to sell the 19 houses for about $30,000 each, pocketing a profit of about $570,000. That money then will be put back into city coffers for community development and the continued rehab of HUD houses as they become available.
Putting locals to work
Local banks and real estate agents will be used to complete the transactions, Belanger said. City officials also want to use Taylor contractors, or those from the metro area, to refurbish the homes, he said.
"They all need work, some of them need more than others, but they're all livable," Belanger said. "If we come across some homes as we go that don't make sense to rehab, our plan is to demolish them and either create green space between existing homes, split the lot between neighbors or somebody can buy the lot and build a new home."
Of the 20,000 homes in Taylor , 900 are vacant, many because of foreclosures that have nearly crippled the local and national housing market.
Metro Detroit and Michigan continue to be among the leaders in the country in the number of foreclosures, according to figures released Thursday by RealtyTrac.
With 13,415 foreclosure filings reported in October, Michigan documented the nation's fourth-highest foreclosure filing total and the sixth-highest foreclosure rate -- one foreclosure filing for every 334 households. The Detroit area was ranked No. 5 in foreclosure filings among major U.S. cities, with one filing for every 131 households.
Belanger said the city also has partnered with the National Faith HomeBuyers, a Detroit-based nonprofit that offers potential homeowners credit score education, financial literacy, homeowner workshops, down payment assistance and tips on how to pay mortgages on time.
City officials also hope to institute another federal program that would allow low-income individuals living in Section 8 housing to apply their federal assistance rental payments toward owning a home.
"This is just a start," Belanger said. "This is our first attempt to revitalize some of our neighborhoods, and we're very excited about it."
Contact SUZETTE HACKNEY at http://us.f452.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Toemail@example.com