The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a $5 million award Wednesday to Alaska communities as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
This money represents the third round of NSP funds. It is the result of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act of 2010.
In a press release, Sen. Mark Begich stated, "These dollars are an excellent investment in the Alaska economy, giving Alaskans the opportunity for affordable home ownership while preventing neighborhood decline and deterring family homelessness. I was pleased to support the Wall Street reform bill, which provides a number of consumer protection items including funding for programs to keep our neighborhoods strong and vibrant."
NSP is designed to provide community assistance in making foreclosed homes livable. Individual organizations apply for assistance.
Mary McBride, director of HUD's northwest region, said the funds are flexible in that they can be used a number of ways to help low-income homebuyers, including acquiring foreclosed properties, rehabilitating blighted properties, demolitions and offering down payments and other assistance to low-income buyers.
She said the funds also can go toward housing counseling for such buyers. She said this will help cease downward trends in Alaska home-buying.
McBride said another part of the NSP program is to offer grantees and sub-grantees a 48-hour "first look" option in which they can have first claims on foreclosed properties.
"These grants will build on local efforts to reverse the effects these foreclosed properties have on their surrounding neighborhoods." HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan stated in a press release. "We wanted to make certain that we targeted these funds to those places with especially high foreclosure activity so we can help turn the tide in our battle against abandonment and blight."
The first NSP funds were $19.6 million and were awarded to Alaska under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
The Juneau Housing Trust was the only local organization to receive NSP first-round funds. Its vice president, Tamara Rowcroft, said the trust received around $500,000.
She said that money went toward purchasing two foreclosed homes and working with two low-income families to help them become homeowners.
She said they also are working on a partnership project with the school district and the Southeast Alaska Guidance Association to build a home for a low-income family, also with NSP help.
As for funds from this NPS award, Rowcroft said she would consider applying for a portion.
"We just found out about it, but I think we just might," she said.
"It's a great way to make more homes available," she said. "Affordable housing can be a real problem here."
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