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Housing Groups Call for Widespread Renovations $2 Million Effort Launched to Re-Build Neighborhoods

8/12/2013, 4:13 p.m.
A spectrum of housing groups have called for the purchase and renovation of 7,500 homes in metro Atlanta over the ...
Angel Poventud at his newly renovated home.

ATLANTA – A spectrum of housing groups have called for the purchase and renovation of 7,500 homes in metro Atlanta over the next five years to help rebuild Atlanta neighborhoods in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. Achieving that would create jobs, help fill neighborhoods with homeowners and increase property values – without the use of local tax dollars.

“The rebound of the housing market has inventories at early 90s levels, and builders have returned,” said Derrick Duckworth, leader of Committed to Communities, a group of REALTORS, lenders and non-profits. “Competition is getting fierce. It’s time to expand that inventory by tens of thousands of homes with purchase and renovation.”

Included in the call to action were the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership and Resources for Residents and Communities, both network members of NeighborWorks America, along with Invest Atlanta and Lifecycle Building Center.

The groups announced a free two-day educational event in the Adair Park neighborhood concerning purchase and renovation. On Saturday, August 17, a house tour for prospective homebuyers will take place from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., beginning at 786 Lowndes Ave. SW. Registration is encouraged but not required at http://adairparkc2communities.eventbrite.com.

The previous day, August 16, a separate event, primarily for community leaders, local officials, non-profits and real estate agents, will occur from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at 746 Lexington Ave. SW. The public is also invited.

During both days, homes in the before, during and after phase of purchase and renovation will be on display.

“Purchase and renovation won’t cost local governments a cent and it’s badly needed,” said John O’Callaghan, president and CEO of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership. “Despite a 40 percent improvement since the depth of the recession, Atlanta still has the dubious distinction of having the fifth highest vacancy rate among major cities, and Georgia was No. 5 in the nation in foreclosures last year.”

The most common way to purchase and renovate homes is through what are known as 203(k) loans, guaranteed by the federal government and known by their HUD designation. With one mortgage, buyers can buy the home and obtain financing for renovation to meet their specific needs. A down payment of just 3.5 percent is required and with today’s low mortgage rates the loan is simpler and often more affordable than separate purchase and construction loans.

Not only does the option revive homes, but it also creates the chance to reuse materials. Thus on both days the non-profit Lifecycle Building Center will demonstrate the use of reclaimed building materials by setting up salvaged product displays in one home to be shown. The group’s goal is to promote resource efficiency in buildings by salvaging and reusing materials instead of sending them to landfills, thus reducing environmental impact and providing substantial cost savings.

Said Jill Arrington, CEO of Resources for Residents and Communities, “Sustainability of our housing stock is another important reason to consider purchase and renovation. The loans may take a little more time, but with the federal guarantee and low down payment, and the chance to get exactly the home you want, they’re worth it.”