Program seeking low-income homeowners

Feb. 18, 2014 @ 06:31 PM

In September, the Vance County commissioners revised its strategies for selling 11 Neighborhood Stabilization Program houses. Six months later, one of the houses is ready to be sold.

On Monday, commissioners voted unanimously to sell the first home funded through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program for $65,000.

The program aims to encourage homeownership among low-income families.

Tonya Hester, a Century 21 real estate agent, was hired recently by the commissioners as the listing agent for 11 NSP homes.

Ownership of the remaining five houses was transferred from the county to Franklin-Vance-Warren Opportunity by vote of the commissioners. The five homes­ — located on Cross, Poplar and Horner streets — are marketed as rental properties.

Earlier this month, Hester and the planning and environmental committee discussed potential challenges moving forward.

“I know you all are shooting for medium- to lower-income people,” Hester said. “I don’t think you are going to find many medium-income people that want houses in these areas. It is going to go to the lower-income....So marketing these is not going to be normal marketing procedures as regular houses.”

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program 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, which is $34,499 according to the U.S. Census Bureau data.

Eligibility is determined using the Housing and Urban Development guidelines, as well as household income and the number of people in a family, according to Kerr-Tar Community Development Planner Karen Foster.

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

Commissioner Terry Garrison asked Hester to present her marketing strategies to the committee, which constitutes commissioners Garrison, Dan Brummitt and Tommy Hester.

“I don’t feel like I can market these houses as a normal house,” Tonya Hester said. “I need to find those avenues where I can find those people who will qualify and get them interested in these houses. U.S. Department of Agriculture could be a big benefactor to me. Franklin-Vance-Warren could be a big benefactor if they have people coming in who they think could qualify for these houses.”

She also discussed using fliers and informational signs located on the properties.

Tonya Hester, who rents properties in Henderson, said she is familiar with the target population.

“I work with these clients all the time, whether its someone looking for rentals or someone looking to buy a house,” she said. “And Henderson is a very hard sell, I wouldn’t make any bones about it at all. But it is not impossible. As you see we already have an offer here. It’s just finding those people.”


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