published Friday, October 21st, 2011

5 Northwest Georgia counties receive grant to buy, refurbish and resell homes

by Andy Johns

CALHOUN, Ga. — Five Northwest Georgia counties — including Whitfield, Walker and Gordon — have received a federal grant to buy, refurbish and try to resell foreclosed homes.

The $3.5 million comes in the form of a Neighborhood Stabilization grant and is based on the number of foreclosures and subprime loans in the county.

“Unfortunately, that’s a list you really don’t want to be on,” said Whitfield County Commission Chairman Mike Babb.

Some of the money also will be used to help the new buyers with downpayments or closing costs. The counties already had qualified for one round of the grants for poor first-time buyers, but the new Program 3 grants are open for families with higher incomes and people who previously have owned property.

“It allows you to address a working family,” said Michael Miller, Neighborhood Stabilization Program coordinator for the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission.

The grant is funded through the federal Housing and Urban Development Department and was created in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform in 2010 enhanced the funding.

According to documents, Walker and Gordon counties will get nearly $300,000 each and Whitfield will get about $480,000. Miller said that money can go further because the county or administering agency keeps the money from the property sales to use on other houses.

Babb said one house that’s been foreclosed on can hurt property values. “If your neighborhoods start going down, it takes the whole community down,” he said.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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