Encouraging Home Ownership

The Encouraging Home Ownership initiative, related to the Muncie Action Plan (MAP) initiative 4: Creating Attractive & Desirable Places, strives to take abandoned and vacant properties and reuse them as public gathering spaces. Specifically, it relates to Actions 3 (Continue & Expand the Blight Removal Program), 12 (Promote and support the land bank program), and 13 (Create incentives to achieve development priorities) through its effort to address blighted buildings, alleviate the city of its land holdings, and foster community development by bringing individuals and families into the neighborhood.

Why this is important

Industry residents identified improving homeownership numbers as a priority during the January neighborhood association meeting. According to results from the neighborhood survey, the Industry neighborhood is split evenly between home owners and renters. Homeownership encourages a sense of pride and inspires residents to improve their homes and their neighborhoods. Several of Industry’s homes are abandoned or vacant – ready for new residents and families to move in and start a life. By encouraging families to relocate to Industry, the neighborhood can continue to foster its strong community ties and commit more members to making the neighborhood an even greater place to live. This initiative was given a medium priority level by residents and students.

Increasing Homeownership

Figure 1 – Picture of a family purchasing a home Source: Ross Pietrzak

 What this will involve

This initiative requires the Industry Neighborhood Association to work with the City of Muncie to develop a sale of homes and empty parcels to new families. The process for establishing a sale includes:

  1. Identify city-owned homes and vacant lots available for sale
  2. Develop a contract that stipulates guarantees from the buyer including their intention, the necessity to build a home (if the lot is vacant), and minimum occupancy period by the owner.

The sale should target individuals and families interested in living in the area. This will prevent homes and lots from repeating the cycle of being abandoned and left to tax-sale. The Industry Neighborhood Association should work closely with the City of Muncie in determining which properties to sell and contract development. Since the properties would be city-owned, the City of Muncie would be the lead agency in this initiative. The neighborhood association should work in close communication with the Community Development department throughout the process.

There is no funding required for this initiative.

Contact information for assistance:

Department of Community Development
300 N. High St. City Hall
Muncie, IN 47305-1639
Phone: (765) 747-4825
Fax:     (765) 747-4898
Contact: Ms. Terry Bailey, Director
Email:     tbailey@cityofmuncie.com
http://www.cityofmuncie.com/muncie-community-development.htm

Case studies

Case Study One: Neighborhoods in Bloom – Richmond, VA

The Neighborhoods in Bloom program began in 1999. The city staff in Richmond, Virginia wanted to restore the historic neighborhoods that had declined over the past few decades.

Neighborhoods in Bloom’s area selection was very inclusive and deliberate. The city staff developed a set of evaluation criteria to assess the conditions and potential for revitalization of each neighborhood. The neighborhood condition criteria included the number of vacant properties, crime statistics, poverty levels, home ownership rates, and housing quality. The potential for neighborhood revitalization was evaluated using the strength of civic associations in the neighborhoods, the existence of redevelopment plans, and market trends.

Through many community meetings, the city staff obtained citizen input on the process and the neighborhoods they would recommend for the program. All of the information gathered was provided to three separate groups: civic leaders, a task force of housing providers, and city staff. The neighborhoods considered were reviewed by each group, who then recommended finalists. After their evaluations, representatives from the groups met to develop a consensus recommendation to City Council for approval of the first Neighborhoods in Bloom communities.

The initial program premise is that a concentrated investment of resources in a small area can have a substantial impact in revitalizing an area. Utilizing federal funding resources and following the city’s Strategic Plan, the city works with nonprofit partners who:

  • Buy vacant houses, rehabilitate them, and sell them for home ownership.
  • Buy vacant lots, build houses, and sell them for home ownership.
  • Provide homebuyer education classes and counsel potential buyers in determining affordability and purchase power.
  • Provide down payment assistance.
  • Assist owner occupants with house repairs and renovations.

In addition to removing blight and increasing home ownership in the city, the program seeks to instill private sector confidence to invest in rental and for sale.

Source: http://www.richmondgov.com/content/neighborhoods/index.aspx

Case Study Two: Discounted Lot Sale – Newark, NJ

In an effort to combat blight, the city of Newark, New Jersey sold 100 vacant lots to families for $1,000 per lot. The sales required guarantees that the buyers be couples who would then build homes on the lots and live there for at least the next five years. The buyers were required to get site plans approved and have construction completed within the next 18 months.

Discounted lot sales have been growing in popularity. Chicago, Detroit, and others have held their own sales. These sales have been successful in relieving these cities of their land holdings and creating revenue from vacant properties. Newark hopes to remove blight and rebuild its community by bringing in families, not developers or investors.

Source: http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/newark-land-sale-vacant-lots-valentines-day

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