Stimulus grant designed to help neighborhoods -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Stimulus grant designed to help neighborhoods

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - $800,000 is coming from the federal government to Albany to buy foreclosed homes and rehabilitate them for sale or lease to low and moderate income families.

The goal is to get vacant homes off the market and create home ownership opportunities. Both Habitat for Humanity and the city of Albany currently have homes in foreclosure.

The more vacant homes on a block, the better the opportunity for vagrants and squatters to take up residence.

The city wants to change that and is through the neighborhood stabilization program.

Work is already underway, transforming homes and neighborhoods, and the people in them.

"People take a vested interest in properties that are their own and it also will improve the community as a whole," said Shelena Hawkins of the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The reason these homes are vacant is due to someone else's misfortune, or poor financial management. But leaving them empty only creates other problems.

"we have so many foreclosures and vacant properties that are being vandalized and being used for illegal acts within the community," said Laura McCool of the Department of Community and Economic Development. 

So now the Department of Community and economic development is revitalizing foreclosed properties that the city owns. Habitat for Humanity is doing the same. Both with money from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

"This program will help rehabilitate some of these houses and make them available for people who have never been a homeowner before and now it gives them a chance to be a homeowner," said McCool.

While bringing blighted neighborhoods back to beautiful, and stabilizing the American Dream.

"We just look forward to really revamping and revitalizing our areas and to put those properties back on the tax roles and to revitalize our community," said Hawkins.

Once the city owned properties and Habitat properties are finished, the city will then seek out bank-owned foreclosures to buy, rehab and then sell.

Interested buyers must go through an application process with the Department of Community and Economic Development and must be below a certain income level.

If approved, they must also undergo housing counseling.

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