Local News

Federal grant could mean more affordable housing

Posted February 4, 2009 6:38 p.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2009 9:09 a.m. EST

— Prospective homebuyers in parts of the state could benefit from a federal foreclosure-assistance grant that allows counties to buy and refurbish houses and resell them.

Local governments in 23 North Carolina counties that face high foreclosure rates are eligible for part of the $52.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The state Department of Commerce's Division of Community Assistance will decide how to distribute the grant money.

Wake and Vance counties are among those that have applied for funding.

Counties must apply for the grant and contract with a nonprofit group to buy foreclosed homes from lenders, fix them up and put them back on the market at an affordable price.

"It gives low- and moderate-income families a chance to become homeowners where they might not have had that otherwise, while we're helping to again revitalize neighborhoods," said Annemarie Maiorano, housing program manager for Wake County.

Wake County has asked for $5 million in grant funding, and Vance County has asked for $3.7 million.

"We don't want to be forgotten in the rural counties, either," said Vance County Planning Services Manager Jordan McMillen.

Vance's goal is to refurbish run-down properties and sell them cheap.

"It gives us the opportunity to clean up the county while also assisting those with lower incomes," McMillen said.

Prospective homebuyers, like Dontiez Lee, have been watching real estate prices fall and looking for deals. He says he is eager about the possibility of a more affordable home.

"This is something very positive," Lee said. "I believe that this program will help a lot of families, and it will really help the (housing) market."