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New city homeowners: One plan to draw them

May 22, 2001

New city homeowners: One plan to draw them



Census figures recently released for the City of Hagerstown showed that the percentage of home ownership for the municipality is increasing. It's not much of an increase, but as the mayor said, it's a start.

In the last 10 years, figures show that the percentage of city residents owning their own homes, as opposed to those who rent, cliumbed from 41.2 percent to 41.9 percent.

We're sure that this is due in part because of the work done by the Hagerstown Home Store, a city agency which helps people purchase homes and Hagerstown Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc., a consortium of local banks who've targeted a neighborhood in the city's West End for conversion from rental properties to home ownership.

But given the fact that those efforts have only produced a slight inccrease in the percentage of home ownership, it's obvious that more must be done. And the place to start is not in Washington County, but in the metropolitan areas to the east of the city.

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Whyt there? Because anyone who's moved into Washington County from Hagerstown will not be easily persuaded to return to the city, where the tax burden is higher. No, the target has to be metro-area residents who wsill cut their housing costs by moving here, but who will still commute to higher-paying jobs in the citioes.

Such people will not only be able to invest in the restoration of the homes they buy, but some of them will also be in a position to influence their companies to open branches here or even relocate the company.

Doing this is going to take some splashy event that would draw regional news coverage, like giving away a home - preferably next door to Fairgrounds Park- to anyone who'd agree to spend $25,000 or more to restore it.

Would that cost the city money? Yes, good promotion isn't isn't cheap, but if giving away one house draws the attention of a dozen ppeople who like the city and have cash to spenfd, it will be money well-spent.

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