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City Tries to Revive Near-Dead Home Ownership Program

Home ownership - College Park style!

The City’s Homeownership Grant Program was launched in Year 2006 with $100,000 to encourage the conversion of single-family rental properties to owner occupancy.

However, the number of grant awards has decreased in the last two years, so much so that it has come to a screetching halt. The City awarded one grant in Fiscal Year 2010 and has not awarded any grants in Fiscal Year 2011. One grant is pending, but a settlement date has not been scheduled at this time.

In last Tuesday’s council session Council decided to revise the program guidelines to make foreclosures, short sales and condo properties eligible for grant assistance.

The City hopes a modification to the program may accelerate use of funds. There are 40 properties, 6 of which are condos, listed in College Park that are short sales or foreclosures. Opening the program up to allow short sales, foreclosures, and condos to be eligible for program assistance could increase the pool of eligible properties and potentially increase interest in the program.

The goal of home ownership is consistent with Goal IV, Objective 2, Action a. of City’s FY 2011 Action Plan.

The City’s program provides grants of$5,000 to individuals purchasing a single-family property that was previously rented for a minimum of two years. Grants are also available for city employees and certified police officers to purchase any property in the city to encourage employees and police officers to make their homes in College Park Grants are provided at settlement and go toward the down payment Of closing costs.

Program participants agree to occupy the property for a minimum of five years. If the property is sold prior to five years, a prorated portion of the grant must be repaid. Should the owner rent any portion of the property to any person while not living at the property or to more than two other persons while residing at the property, then the grant must be repaid in full.

In Fiscal Year 2009, $22,500, the funds remaining in the program, were transferred to the College Park City-University Partnership by Council Resolution (CR 09-R-02) dated January 13,2009, which effectively ended the program. In Fiscal Year 2010, the program was re-established in the Capital Improvement Program with funding at $20,000. Eligible grant amounts have varied over the years. In Fiscal Year 2008, grant 42 amounts were increased from $5,000 to $7,500 to increase interest in the program.

Grants were reduced to $5,000 in Fiscal Year 2010. To date, the City has awarded 13 grants (7 at $7,500 and 6 at $5,000). Ofthe thirteen grants, one property went to foreclosure (9012 Autoville Drive) and one participant has violated the terms of the agreement (6700 Rhode Island Avenue). A lien will be placed on 6700 Rhode Island Avenue to recover the grant, which if not paid will result in the property being put up for tax sale.

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