Home ownership effort showcased

June 03, 1997


Staff Writer

On his last day in office, outgoing Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager held a press conference Monday to showcase five newly renovated homes on North Prospect Street and West North Street.

The homes - previously eight two-bedroom apartment units condemned and slated for demolition - were purchased by the city last year for $45,000.

With more than $359,000 in federal funding, the units have been turned into four four-bedroom homes and one two-bedroom home.

They are available for sale to low-income home buyers for prices ranging from $42,000 to $62,000. Two of the four-bedroom homes have been sold.


Each has wall-to-wall carpeting, modern kitchen and bath, a backyard deck and a new furnace, roof, and plumbing system.

Sager said the city's Home Ownership Program, which coordinated the renovations, "puts the city in the real estate business, but the alternative is much worse because these buildings would sit here looking rotten ... (or) be torn down."

Hagerstown receives up to $1 million annually in federal funds for community development projects, such as the Home Ownership Program.

Since the program began in 1991, the city has refurbished and sold 19 homes to low-income families. The total cost of acquisition and rehabilitation was roughly $1.1 million. Sales of all 19 homes totaled just under $1 million, according to city records.

The five renovated homes along North Prospect and West North Streets will bring the total of city-sponsored, rehabilitated homes to 24.

Sager was elected mayor in 1985 on a community development and home ownership platform.

Sager said lower income families should have an opportunity to own a home: "It's part of the American dream."

He said city home ownership of 38 percent is too low, compared to 65 percent nationally. Had he been re-elected, Sager said, he would have pushed for 50 percent home ownership in Hagerstown.

That, he said, would require 200 new home sales a year for the next 10 years.

Newly elected Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Monday that promoting home ownership is a "wonderful idea," but called Sager's goals unrealistic.

"I'm all for improving home ownership in Hagerstown, but the only downfall would be making sure people feel secure and safe," Bruchey said.

He said the homes along North Prospect Street and West North Street are in an area where "someone was just shot in the head and left in the street.

"If we can control crime, we'll sell more homes. But now, 200 new (home sales) a year is an exaggeration of what's possible."

* Anyone interested in buying the homes can telephone city officials at 301-739-8577, extension 136.

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