The program uses grant funds through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to purchase and rehab foreclosed homes to put back on the market.
Since its inception in 2009, the county has been exemplary in carrying out the objectives of the program, so much so that its 100th home will be used as part of a national marketing campaign on the Housing and Urban Development website, as requested by representatives from the two funding agencies for the program.
“They came down and were very impressed with the quality of work we put into our homes when we rehab them,” county program coordinator Elizabeth Tomasello said.
Henry County has already been a model in the program for other Georgia counties.
“Counties have come down here; we have gone to different counties to show them our program and what we do and how we do it,” she said.
Tomasello said the biggest difficulty other counties will face is selling the house that has been rehabbed.
“Sometimes I’m baffled,” she said. “I want to say, ‘Why can’t you sell a house?’ They’re knocking down my doors. They want to buy a house now.”
The program initially began under the first phase of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, when the county was awarded $6.2 million.
Any money made by the county on a house sale is put directly back into the program to continue buying and rehabbing homes, but in order to continue receiving state and federal funding, the county’s program must use 50 percent of those grant funds to get lower- to moderate-income families into homes.
Not only are families walked through the process of finding homes, pre-qualifying for mortgage loans and the county program itself, but down payment assistance is offered up to $25,000. This loan requires the homebuyer live in the home for a specific period of time depending on how large the loan is, after which the loan is forgiven.
The county’s program has continued to be on or ahead of schedule meeting the funding stipulations, so the funds keep rolling in.
Funding for the first phase of the program will continue through March of this year and funding through the third phase will continue through March 2014.
Tomasello said she doesn’t see the program ending any time soon.
“This has been the best program,” she said. “It’s been an incredible program for the whole state of Georgia.”
In addition to putting county residents and families in homes, and putting those foreclosed homes back on the tax rolls, all labor for the home renovations is local.