County to receive millions to improve neighborhoods, find homes for needy

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The Board of County Commissioners have signed off on a final plan to dedicate $4.68 million of federal grant money to public-private partnerships with the Indian River County Housing Authority and the Treasure Coast Homeless Services Council to purchase 20 homes for affordable housing.

The program, called the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, will allow the non-profits to purchase bank-owned homes from the residential foreclosure list, which currently contains 110 homes, but could change as homes are sold or added to the list. The county staff will assist in the negotiations to purchase the homes, but will then deed the properties to the two non-profit agencies. The goal is to find homes that have been vacant and have been a drain on neighboring property values or an eyesore and convert them into viable, affordable housing that will be well maintained.

The Housing Authority will renovate and sell the homes to low-income families earning less than 120 percent of the median income. The Homeless Assistance Center will make improvements, rent out the homes at reduced rents and be responsible for all maintenance on the homes. Five of the homes will be rented to families with very low income and five will be rented to those with moderate income.

Administration fees for the project are expected to be about 10 percent or $450,000. County Commissioner Joe Flescher, who worked on the lengthy effort to get the Community Development Block Grant funds, said “it would cost us 30 percent if we did it,” meaning the cost if county staff administered the program instead of nonprofit agencies.

It is unknown where the homes will be located as properties for purchase have not yet been identified, but the agencies are looking at homes with advertised prices of less than $250,000. The maximum amount to be spent on each home would be $150,000, with about $30,000 alotted per home for renovations.

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