New approaches may be considered for idle housing

Aug. 30, 2013 @ 06:01 PM


Vance County and the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments are working closely with state agencies to occupy the 11 houses built recently with federal funding.

In 2010, Vance County was granted funding under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a component of the Community Development Block Grant.

The program’s funding is used to acquire, rehabilitate and construct new homes in blighted areas, and offset some of the purchase price when homes are sold.

None of the houses have sold since they were put on the market over a year ago but the county, along with Kerr-Tar, are working with a technical assistance consultant from the Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development to re-market its strategy to reach potential buyers.

“The Council of Government is actively working with us and the state to market these houses,” said Vance County Manager Jerry Ayscue.

In May, the county commissioners voted to adopt lower listing prices for 10 houses in the program.

A few of the new listing prices were lowered to more than 50 percent of the original price.

“The market is abysmal right now and that is a major part of it,” Ayscue said.

Kerr-Tar Community Development Planner Karen Foster said most local applicants do not have sufficient credit to be approved for a mortgage loan. Kerr-Tarr is under contract with the county and administers the grant.

“We are in an area where we have high unemployment and a continued lack of jobs,” Foster said. “Its not surprising that people would have credit barriers.”

The NSP stipulates 30 percent of the funding must be used to provide housing for families making less than 50 percent of the county’s area median income. The eligible incomes are determined using the HUD Median Household Income table and the total amount of household income and the number of people in the household determines where the applicant falls within the income guidelines, Foster wrote in an email.

Based on the HUD Median Household Income table, a family of four making 80 percent of the AMI in Vance County would earn $34,650 per year and a four-person family making 30 percent of AMI would only earn $14,500 annually.

The remaining funds can be used for households in a higher income bracket, but not beyond 120 percent of the AMI.

The county’s planning and environmental committee, consisting of commissioners Tommy Hester, Dan Brummitt and Terry Garisson, will meet Tuesday afternoon with Kerr-Tar representatives to discuss the potential strategies moving forward.

Planning Director Jordan McMillen said the committee members will consider the merits and drawbacks of renting some of the properties.

He said the county would extend its ownership and commitment to the properties if the county chooses to rent rather than sell.

“Rental may need to come into the picture. At this point none of that has been decided,” McMillen said Friday.

The committee will present its recommendation to the full board of commissioners later Tuesday night.

“Hopefully,” McMillen said, “we will understand where this committee stands and where we need to move, with the ultimate goal being to occupy the homes and provide them for low-income folks.”

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