Washington County has been awarded $400,000 from the Maryland Neighborhood Conservation Initiative to address vacant and abandoned foreclosed homes in Hagerstown, according to a fiscal research specialist for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.
The funds will be distributed to three community organizations, Susan Buchanan told the Washington County Board of Commissioners Tuesday.
The groups are:
- The Habitat for Humanity of Washington County which will receive $155,000 to buy and rehabilitate two homes to be sold to low- to moderate-income persons.
- The Washington County Community Action Council which will receive $100,000 to buy and rehabilitate one house to be rented to low- to moderate-income persons.
- The Hagerstown Neighborhood Development Partnership Inc. which will receive $140,000 for its down-payment assistance program and $5,000 for housing counseling.
The funds were provided to the state by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Buchanan said.
"At the beginning of the year they had $5 million that they were given to distribute in Maryland to be able to address issues that have come about from the foreclosure crisis and subprime lending," she said.
The state asked counties to send in proposals for reducing the number of vacant and abandoned foreclosed homes in certain census tracts, Buchanan said. In Washington County, those tracts are in the city of Hagerstown, she said.
"We submitted the proposal, and after several months we found out that we were actually one of, I think, only three jurisdictions in Maryland that they were approving accepting our proposal," Buchanan said.
After receiving no public comments at a public hearing Tuesday, the county commissioners voted unanimously to accept the funds.
Noel Williams, President of Habitat for Humanity of Washington County's Board of Directors, said the organization, which previously has built new homes, has a goal of rehabilitating existing homes.
Many other Habitat for Humanity groups across the country already do such rehabilitations, he said, noting that they can be less expensive than buying land for new homes.
"This money is going to allow us to be able, in the next three years, to do two rehabs," Williams said.
David Jordan, executive director of the Washington County Community Action Council, said his organization already has a program in which it purchases properties, renovates them and rents them at affordable rates. The additional funds will allow CAC to buy one or possibly two properties in the designated census tracts, he said.
Sharon Disque, executive director of the Neighborhood Development Partnership, said the down-payment assistance program offers up to $20,000 as a zero percent loan that becomes due if the family sells the home.
Families making up to 120 percent of the median income level will qualify for the loans using the Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding, she said.