Housing problem finds solution

Five qualified tenants located before federal deadline’s arrival
Feb. 03, 2014 @ 10:17 PM

With the help of Franklin-Vance-Warren Opportunity, Vance County has met a major deadline to rent federally subsidized houses and is taking steps to sell the remainder.

Karen Foster, community development planner at the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, said Monday that FVW Opportunity has found five qualified tenants who are prepared to rent the properties once necessary repairs are made.

“I would just like to say that Franklin-Vance-Warren did a great job back in December in meeting with their board, getting their attorney involved and getting this turned around,” Vance County attorney Jonathan Care said. “I think they went above and beyond.”
Care suggested the county contract with Oxford Century 21 real estate agent Tonya Hester to sell the six remaining houses.

The 11 houses in Vance County were constructed or renovated in 2010 with funding through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a component of the Community Development Block Grant. The federal program aims to promote home ownership in low-income communities.
“The individuals that these homes are supposed to be sold to, it’s a difficult segment; it’s a difficult market, and there are not a lot of real estate agents who concentrate on that,” Care said. “Tonya deals with a lot of first-time homebuyers. She deals with a lot of REO-type properties where it’s very limited. She has been handling the more difficult markets since I remember her coming onto to the scene.”

Tonya Hester is not related to county commissioner Tommy Hester.
Commissioners voted unanimously to authorize the planning and environmental committee to engage Tonya Hester as the listing agent for the six stabilization program properties on behalf of the county.

Last year, county commissioners agreed to identify five of the 11 houses as rental properties because all the homes have been vacant since built.
The prices were reduced last year for 10 of them — some more than 50 percent of the original price.

In November, the county was given a Jan. 31 deadline to rent or find renters for the five properties; otherwise, it would violate the terms of the federal grant and could be held liable for the costs of those houses.
Foster said the county, which owns the properties, has not yet transferred ownership to FVW Opportunity because damage to the homes in the wake of recent vandalism needs to be repaired before the transfer can take place.

The county must either have sold the remaining six houses or have a concrete plan in place to do so by September.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.