Valdosta - Old, dilapidated homes are scattered all over town, but city leaders have a new program to get rid of this substandard housing. "When there are units that absolutely can't be repaired, what better thing to do than to come back in with a brand new home for a first time home buyer," said Mara Register, Community Development Director.
It's called Dream Valdosta. With help from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the city is offering all sorts of financial assistance to first time home buyers. "Down payment assistance, low interest mortgage rates through local banks," said Register.
A housing study done in 2000 found that there were more than 900 substandard housing units in Valdosta. City leaders have set a goal of eliminating all of those by the year 2020, and this is the first stop towards achieving that goal. "If 80 percent of the people in this country want to own their own home, we want to do everything we can to help facility that dream in our own community," said Register.
The program is designed for low to moderate income families. "Which are those who make 80 percent of area median income or less," said Register.
And along with providing financial assistance, the city will also help guide participants through the home buying process. "We'll send them to Project Change for home buyer education, we'll qualify them to get them in touch with the low interest leaders, and then we'll participate with the down payment money," said Mayor John Fretti.
But the funding isn't limited to those who want to buy an existing home. "It could be a piece of land where they want to build," said Fretti.
It's all part of the city's plan to provide decent, affordable housing, and help its citizens live out the American dream.