The last of 12 Whitehall residences to benefit from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program is expected to be occupied by the end of the month, bringing to a close the first phase of a successful undertaking, organizers said.
Franklin County commissioners and Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard lauded the effort to combat the effects of foreclosed and abandoned residences with the investment of $2.1 million, in the city of Whitehall from HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Twelve residences in Whitehall benefited, the last of which, in the 600 block of Erickson Avenue, is scheduled for a closing by month's end.
Franklin County's Economic Development and Planning Department partnered with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Habitat for Humanity to purchase and renovate foreclosed and vacated houses. Once improved, these houses were sold to qualified buyers.
"It has not only helped people afford a house, it has also benefited neighborhoods by increased property value," Maggard said.
Some houses were renovated and others were demolished and rebuilt, but each resulted in an improved home that also improved the aesthetics and property value of the area, as well as increasing the number of owner-occupied residences in the city, Maggard said.
"The Whitehall community has greatly benefitted from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. It has helped revitalize our neighborhoods and has given an affordable option to those looking to purchase a home in Whitehall," Maggard said.
Franklin County commissioners also praised the program and its results.
"We've seen firsthand the impact the foreclosure crises had on homeowners, but the crises hurt communities, too," Commissioner John O'Grady said in a press release announcing the significance of the program in Whitehall and the conclusion of its first phase.
"By redeveloping these vacant and foreclosed properties, we've started a ripple effect of revitalization, putting homebuilders to work, creating more affordable housing, and helping neighborhoods that need it most."
"Even one vacant home can have a debilitating effect on a neighborhood, leading to reduced property values, blight and neighborhood decay," Commissioner Marilyn Brown said in a press release.
Brown also is chairwoman of the MORPC board of directors.
"By rescuing and renovating these 12 homes, our partners have provided a safe home for a Whitehall family and at the same time, secured the health and safety of the surrounding community," she said.
In additional to requiring homebuyer education for families who purchased a rehabilitated residence, Franklin County also required that all renovated residences be AWARE-certified (accessible, water conservation, air quality, resource conscious, energy efficient).