Twenty-two cities, including Baltimore, will receive an additional $5.8 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development acquired properties as part of its expanded urban homesteading program, HUD Secretary Patricia Roberts Harris has announced.
The 22 cities also will receive $6 million in low-interest loans to rehabilitate their homesteading neighborhoods. Baltimore's share of the allocation is $225,000 in HUD homes, and $200,000 for the low-interest rehabilitation loans, according to the statement released today by HUD.
The expanded program, which will help 22 of the 39 demonstration cities, will allow homesteading of about 850 additional properties nationwide, the statement said.
Urban homesteading is a program tht HUD began in 23 cities as an experiment in 1975, modeled after similar programs started several years before in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. It allows individuals and families to purchase structurally sound, unoccupied HUD foreclosed houses for $1 if the homesteaders promise to restore the homes and live in them for at least three years. Cities that participate in the program also agree to improve the neighborhood's public services and facilities.
The District of Columbia was not one of the original 23 cities participating in HUD's experimental program. D.C. housing official Roy Priest said that the city did apply for inclusion in the program later, but was turned down because the few HUD-owned properties in Washing on were too scattered and the program would not have had the desired impact.
Instead, D.C. has it own urban homesteading operation, and buys properties through other federal and local programs, Priest said.
The 23 "first round" cities that participated in HUD's program already have received $11.1 million for about 2,000 HUD foreclosed homes, and $12.175 million in low-interest rehabilitation money. One of the original 23 cities, Jersey City, did not need additional funds.
By the beginning of this month, 808 homesteaders were occupying their newly acquired homes, and rehabilitation was either in progress or completed on 1.613 properties, according to the press statement.
The program provides home-ownership opportunities for people who might otherwise be forced to continue to rent apartments, and has helped revitalize neighborhoods in many cities that were on the verge of serious decline.
Secretary Harris also announced that the homesteading program now is a "national operating program," opening it to participation by states, local governments, or their designated public agencies.
According to Donna E. Shalala, HUD's assistant secretary for policy, development and research, "Homesteading, from HUC's perspective, has matured from a seedling research idea to a full-grown operating program. Our evaluation of the demonstration city programs will continue, and what we learn will guide us in making modifications or changes in the operating program."
The expanded homesteading program will be administered by Robert Embry. HUD assistant secretary, and his Office of Community Planning and Development.
The increased allocation brings Baltimore's total to $600,000 in HUD acquired homes, and $720,000 in low-interest rehabilitation loans.
Other cities that will receive additional homesteading allocations include Boston, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, Kansas City, Mo., Minneapolis, Dallas and Oakland, Calif.