Dying houses to be reborn as city homes Affordability plan will offer them to low-income families

Program being unveiled today

Each fixed-up dwelling to have a computer, access to Internet

July 18, 1996|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Vacant or deteriorating Baltimore houses will be bought, renovated and sold to low-income families through a $10.4 million, public-private team effort to be announced today.

The houses also will be linked to the Internet.

Representatives of Amerifirst Mortgage Corp., the United Minority Contractors' Association Inc. and the Baltimore Urban League were scheduled to announce the "affordable housing plan" today at 1318 W. Lafayette Ave., one of the first houses slated for rehabilitation.

Amerifirst will lend money to the association's mid-Atlantic chapter to buy and rehabilitate 191 city homes, an official of the Hempstead, N.Y.-based lender said yesterday.

The Urban League will help find qualified buyers for the homes, and local workers to fill some of the 300 to 400 construction jobs, said Bentley Whitfield, executive vice president of Amerifirst.

The program will target blighted neighborhoods that have failed to attract private investment, in the hope of boosting homeownership and offering job training, Whitfield said.

"One of the most important things is that we are doing development in the inner city without any government subsidies, demonstrating that can be done," Whitfield said. "The homes will be priced modestly and, by focusing on vacant homes, we also address and help eliminate some of the urban blight."

He said he anticipates that other cities plagued by urban decay and lacking financial resources will look to such a model in re-development efforts.

Representatives of the lender, the contractors' association and the Urban League are expected to announce the program today at 1318 W. Lafayette Ave., one of the first houses slated for purchase and rehabilitation.

The lender expects to make 30-year, fixed-rate loans, averaging $48,000 to $50,000, for acquisition and construction of the homes, most of which will be rowhouses. The loans will be insured through the department of Housing and Urban Development's Federal Housing Administration.

The contractors' association plans to hire local minority contractors and young, unskilled workers who would get job training.

In addition, the national, nonprofit group, which works to find cost-effective solutions to inner cities' economic problems, will incorporate one of its technology initiatives into the project: Each of the rehabilitated homes will be equipped with a computer with Internet access and a printer, as part of a program that introduces computer ownership and access to minority communities.

The Baltimore homes will be bought and renovated within six to eight months, then resold to buyers at prices from $40,000 to the mid-$50,000 range, Whitfield said.

To qualify, a buyer must earn an estimated minimum annual salary of $18,000.

Construction loans will be assumable, which means little or no closing costs and down payments for the buyers, Whitfield said. The lender also has built flexibility into its loans, so that buyers who receive disability insurance benefits, for instance, could qualify.

Pub Date: 7/18/96

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