Cape group seeks grant to buy foreclosed homes, provide affordable housing

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A new federal program could make it easier for people of modest means to afford homes in north-central Cape Girardeau.

On Monday, the Cape Girardeau City Council will consider whether to approve a grant sought by the city in partnership with 4-Sight Counseling for $322,500 to purchase at least three foreclosed homes to fix them up and resell them.

The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at city hall, 401 Independence St.

The grant, under the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, is designed to keep areas from becoming rundown because of vacant homes. The purpose is also to help families find affordable housing, said Tim Gould, executive director of 4-Sight.

The program needs council approval and 4-Sight is not ready to begin identifying potential purchasers, Gould said. The agency has, in conjunction with the city, identified some potential properties as candidates for purchase.

The rules have also changed since the program was launched in 2008, Gould said. After the council approves the grant and Gould fully understands the latest rules, details of who is eligible and how to apply will be announced, he said.

Of the grant amount, $180,000 can be used to purchase homes. Another $60,000 is set aside for repairs, with $60,000 earmarked to help with financing and $22,500 to be used to administer the program. The homes must be in an area between Sprigg Street and the Mississippi River between Washington Street and Park Avenue on the south and Bertling Road and Big Bend Road on the north.

Purchasers are eligible if they earn less than 120 percent of the Cape Girardeau County median household income. For 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the median income was $45,262.

To make sure that the homes are affordable, they must be sold for no more than 85 percent of their market value. Buyers will be required to live in the homes for a number of years, perhaps as long as 10, to make sure that the homes are not sold for a quick profit, Gould said.

"The idea is to stabilize neighborhoods and clean up foreclosed homes," he said. "It is here to help individuals and families."

Over time, as the homes purchased initially are sold, additional homes will be bought and repaired, Gould said. The program isn't designed to last forever, he said.

"It is wasn't designed to be a perpetual fund," he said. "It is designed to be a diminishing fund."

Buyers must undergo prepurchase and homebuyer education to be eligible, Gould said.

4-Sight Counseling is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency that provides prepurchase and homebuyer training, assistance to renters and information on money and debt management.

The council will also consider renewing a $28,784 grant to be shared by the Salvation Army and the Safe House for Women to provide emergency shelter.


Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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