City officials have provided Jamestown City Council with guidelines for the proposed 19A homeownership program. The city sees the program as an opportunity to improve neighborhood quality and value by rehabilitating neglected properties, as well as providing an affordable option for new owners. Photo of PJ by Timothy Frudd

City officials presented an updated explanation to city council of the 19A homeownership program guidelines.

The city council filed a resolution last month to allocate $750,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the city to acquire, rehabilitate and sell properties in Jamestown.

The company’s associate attorney Ben Haskin and director of development Crystal Surdyk shared detailed guidelines prospective homeowners will need to follow when purchasing the city’s select homes.

“At the last meeting, Councilor Ecklund asked us to prepare a brief outline of what we are going to require of people who acquire homes under this program. Haskin said. “We need to have some sort of hook.”

CITY PROTECTION

Haskin explained that if someone buys one of the rehabilitated houses, there will be certain conditions that they must meet for a period of five years.

If a resident chooses to leave the house during the five-year period, the owner will have to pay a percentage of the lien determined by the city.

“There is going to be a multi-pronged mortgage placed on any property,” Haskin said. “Monetarily, it will be the amount of city ARPA funds placed to rehabilitate the house. They would have to repay a portion of that money determined essentially by the percentage of months remaining in those five years.

In addition to the monetary requirement, the city will also require homeowners to pay their taxes and maintain the home once it is up to code.

Haskin explained that the city will retain the right to initiate foreclosure proceedings on any Schedule 19A property if property owners fail to pay their taxes annually or allow code enforcement violations to go unaddressed.

“We can rule out if at any time they don’t pay their property taxes during that five-year period, if they don’t maintain their home insurance during that five-year period, and if they allow other code enforcement violations piling up on the property and failing to respond to address these issues,” he said.

The city council also asked city officials for details on how 19A Home Ownership properties would be selected and how potential owners would be chosen.

Haskin explained that the city does not currently have a set of guidelines regarding property selection. Instead, he suggested the program would be determined on a basis “house by house or case by case”.

Regarding the selection of potential owners, Haskin said that if there is more than one qualified owner interested in a particular property, the city will most likely sell the property to the highest bidder.

The city plans to use all profits from the 19A houses to fund the rehabilitation process for additional houses. The goal will be to create a sustainable program that does not run the risk of depleting ARPA’s $750,000 initial funding resources.

Haskin said the city also plans to work with other organizations to fund and improve the homes.

FAVORABLE REACTION

The involvement of other agencies and the mobilization of resources in collaboration with other organizations have been approved by the municipal council.

“I love that you are partnering with other housing organizations who may be able to contribute and help,” said Councilwoman Marie Carrubba, D-Ward IV. “You want people to succeed. I think the more you can help and support them to get through this period of time to do everything, but also for maintenance.

Councilman Brent Sheldon, R-Ward I, said he believes the program will help improve neighborhood stability in Jamestown.

By making meaningful improvements to vacant and neglected properties throughout Jamestown, the city believes the collective value of properties in various neighborhoods will be increased. Additionally, city officials say the 19A program will prevent the constant rotation of properties at tax auctions.

“That’s really the driving force behind this program,” Haskin said. “It gives us the opportunity to step in and stabilize that specific neighborhood or block and not have to wait for the full auction process. This allows us to enter it earlier and stabilize this neighborhood.

Carrubba said one of the biggest benefits of the 19A program would be the partnership with housing organizations such as COI and CHRIC, which could save homes before they become “unrecoverable”.

While the city’s initial $750,000 investment is a significant sum of money, Carrubba believes the program will be a worthwhile investment for the city.

“There are a lot of positive things that can come out of this program,” she says. “It’s an investment of money, but it will hopefully prevent demolition of properties and keep neighborhoods intact.” It’s a new strategy. »

The city has already acquired ten homes and is awaiting approval from the city council at the end of the month for the allocation of resources to finance the rehabilitation process.

Crystal Surdyk also told city council that a “manual” detailing each step of homeownership 19A will be provided to each homeowner to ensure residents have detailed answers to any potential questions about the program.



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