How Alachua County Plans To Improve Foreclosure Rates

By on October 22nd, 2013

Alachua County is now accepting offers on two homes it purchased and renovated through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in an effort to reverse the impact of foreclosure rates.

The county received about $1 million from a Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant in 2013, which it used to work on eight foreclosed homes.

Ralston Reodica, Alachua County housing programs coordinator, said the renovation process can take two to three months, which includes fixing the homes and bringing them up to minimum housing code. New energy-efficient appliances are also installed.

The homes are then sold, given to the Alachua County Housing Authority or granted to Meridian Behavioral Healthcare Inc., as rental properties to lower-income families.

To purchase a home, the county requires that buyers meet certain requirements. Buyers are required to have a specific income level and they must be first-time home buyers.

Reodica said the feedback he’s received from some of the owners has been positive. He said the new homeowners are excited because they have never owned a home before.

Property taxes will not stay at the same amount as when the county first purchased the homes.

The value of the property will increase because of the renovations and as a result, property taxes would increase, he said.

In the three years the county has been receiving funding from the NSP, he said they haven’t experienced a new homeowner foreclosing on a program’s home.

Reodica said he hopes it doesn’t occur.

“That’s the whole goal,” he said, “to be able to have someone afford and maintain a home.”

Sara Mott, 34, vice president of finance and accounting at Meridian Behavioral Healthcare Inc., said the organization currently has five NSP homes that they rent out to community members who are more disadvantaged than others.

She said the families who live in these homes are able to take comfort in knowing it’s newly renovated.

“One of the core missions is to help out those in our community,” she said, “and this is definitely one of those ways that we can help.”

She added that the families are able to rent bigger houses and save money on their electricity bill because of the energy-efficient appliances.

Reodica said another one of the program’s goals is to foster community pride by showing members of the community that these once-foreclosed homes are being purchased and put back on the tax roll for the county.

He said if the foreclosed home is sitting for a while, it can negatively affect the community.

Julie Dunnell, of Gainesville, lives across the street from one of the NSP homes that the county is now accepting offers on.

She said the home, at 3119 NE 11th Terrace, has been empty for about a year and a half before the county acquired it.

Dunnell said she thinks the program will help benefit her neighborhood and any of the foreclosed homes in it. She said she noticed a lot of people coming by to look at the house when it was vacant, but nobody would purchase it.

“It’s a nice home,” she said. “I kept thinking I wish somebody would buy it because it has good bones.”

The second foreclosed home available for sale is located at 282 NE 45th Terrace in Gainesville.

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