Brooklyn Park planners push homeownership $5 million award to go toward mortgage aid

December 05, 1997|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

More homeowners and a better community -- that's what Brooklyn Park community activists and politicians are counting on getting out of a recent $5 million award from the state.

The Brooklyn Park Planning Area, which encompasses Brooklyn Park, Pumphrey and parts of Linthicum, received the money from the state's Smart Growth Mortgage Program this week to encourage 45 to 50 first-time homebuyers to purchase single-family houses in the area.

The homebuyers will be given a 4 percent mortgage interest rate, much lower than the commercial rate of about 7.5 percent, according to Sue duPont, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

"We're very pleased," said Democratic state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, who represents the area. "In order to stabilize neighborhoods, homeownership is a major component of that. Once people invest in a home, they'll have greater pride in the neighborhood."

The Brooklyn Park Planning Area was the only Anne Arundel community to get a grant; it was one of four jurisdictions to receive the maximum amount of $5 million. The others were in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Prince George's County.

The $5 million will be used in conjunction with $200,000 in county and federal funds as part of the county's Mortgage Assistance Program. Before qualifying for the mortgage assistance, prospective homebuyers will have to go through the county's Home Ownership Counseling Program, which teaches participants how to buy a house and take care of it, said Kathleen Koch, executive director of Arundel Community Development Services.

To qualify for the low rate, homebuyers also would have to have a maximum household income of $57,800 for one to two people to $66,470 for families of three or more people. The maximum house price allowed is $140,634. In the Brooklyn Park area, most homes cost from $80,000 to $120,000, Koch said.

Clara Rosipko, who has lived in Brooklyn Park since the late 1950s and has been active in the Brooklyn Heights Improvement Association since the 1960s, said the neighborhood has been declining for years because of absentee landlords. She said she hoped the award would bring more home-owners into the area and revitalize the neighborhood.

Absentee landlords "don't keep the properties up," Rosipko said. "All they want is their rent and some of the conditions of the homes [are] unbelievable. I don't know how they get away with it. We've been fighting these things."

Pub Date: 12/05/97

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