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Pima, city get $10M to buy blighted houses

Citizen Staff Writer



Tucson and Pima County will together receive about $10.37 million in federal money to buy foreclosed or blighted properties.

The grants – $3,086,867 to Pima County and $7,286,911 to Tucson – come as part of a $4 billion initiative intended to lessen the effects of accelerating foreclosures.

The money cannot be used to help those facing the loss of their home. Rather, it is slated to rehabilitate and resell abandoned or foreclosed homes and “stem the decline of house values of neighboring homes.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the allocations Monday.

With its share, the county plans to:

• Buy and repair 20 foreclosed homes that will be sold or rented under a land trust system that makes homes more affordable by subtracting the cost of the land from the purchase price.

• Buy between five and seven rental units to lease to households with incomes less than 50 percent of the area median income.

• Buy and redevelop or “land bank” seven South Tucson lots to be managed by the Primavera Foundation.

• Buy and redevelop or land bank seven Ajo lots, to be managed by the International Sonoran Desert Alliance.

About $300,000 of the total is slated for administrative costs.

Tucson plans to:

• Buy and rehabilitate 10 foreclosed rental properties to rent to households making less than 50 percent of the area median income.

• Buy and rehab at least 26 foreclosed homes to resell as part of the community land trust. These homes would be sold to those making less than 65 percent of the area median income.

About $700,000 is slated for administrative costs.

Local officials said there are still kinks in the program.

Under federal rules, governments must pay no more than 85 percent of market value for the bank-owned properties.

Officials worry that, in combination with the lower prices of homes inside a land trust system, the price stipulation could push home prices down further in areas that were chosen.

“We really don’t want to have a negative effect,” said Marcos Ysmael, a housing program coordinator with Pima County’s Community Development and Neighborhood Conservation Department.

Details of how to take advantage of the program are being worked out.

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