West End housing update

June 16, 1997


Staff Writer

A program that helps people buy their first homes is making money available to more people by approving loans for houses outside its targeted West End neighborhood.

Loans for houses outside the boundaries will be decided on a house-by-house basis starting this summer, said Lee Brining, president of the board of directors of Hagerstown Neighborhood Housing Services Inc.

Agency officials also will decide whether to add more streets to the boundaries for the program that helps first-time homebuyers with low or moderate incomes, said Executive Director Teresa Hartle.


The boundaries now are Burhans Boulevard, West Side Avenue, Central Avenue, Mitchell Avenue by Central Chemical and up to the 800 block of Salem Avenue.

To be eligible, buyers must:

  • Make less than $39,000.
  • Never have bought a home before.
  • Have a moderate credit rating.
  • Have the ability to pay.

The loans have a fixed low interest and are payable over 25 years.

The program has had several requests to go beyond its boundaries, but has done so only once, Hartle said. A $49,900 house was sold in the 900 block of Salem Avenue last week, she said.

The boundaries are limited because of funding, officials said.

Since the program began in January 1995, it has helped sell 23 houses in the West End, Hartle said. Of those, 12 were rentals and eight were vacant.

Homeownership helps revitalize a neighborhood, Hartle said. "If people own property, they tend to be more responsible for the property."

Most of the new homeowners moved from within Hagerstown, although there have been some from outside the area, including Frederick, Md., and Cumberland, Md., Hartle said.

Brining said she doesn't think it's necessary to expand the program too quickly with the city's homeownership program doing well.

George Andreve, the city's community development manager, said the city's program can help a lower income level than the agency's and has a city-wide reach.

But, one program won't satisfy the need to increase homeownership in a city with a 40 percent homeownership rate, Andreve said.

Andreve said he would encourage agency officials to enlarge the program as much as they're capable.

The Hagerstown Neighborhood Housing Services office is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday as well as by appointment.

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