Four Fayette County Communities Cleared to Receive $500,000 for Housing
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Four Fayette County Communities Cleared to Receive $500,000 for Housing

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ANSTED, WV – March 22, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Four southern West Virginia communities will receive $500,000 in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds to buy blighted residential properties and demolish or redevelop them into new homes for sale as part of Fayette County’s program to broaden affordable housing opportunities.

Led by Ansted Mayor Romie “Pete” Hobbs, and banding together to pursue a common objective, the municipalities of Ansted, Mount Hope, Oak Hill and Smithers, in concert with the Fayette County Commission, applied for and received approval to use the federal grants starting this year. The application, submitted on behalf of the municipalities by the Central Appalachia Empowerment Zone, was approved by the West Virginia Development Office, the state administrator of NSP funds, with the support of Governor Joe Manchin.

“All four mayors – Michael Martin of Mount Hope; Anna Lou Holt of Oak Hill, working with City Manager Bill Hannabass; Tom Skaggs of Smithers, and I – know that unsightly homes such as foreclosed and abandoned properties detract from their communities and have a negative impact on real estate values,” Mayor Hobbs said. “This new NSP grant will reduce or eliminate these eyesores by funding new construction, renovation and resale activity to create affordable housing. Our outreach program will also provide credit counseling, homeowner counseling and down payment assistance to qualified buyers,” the mayor added.

Up to $150,000 in NSP funds can be allocated for work on each property, Hobbs said, with the expectation that up to five new or restored properties will become available for sale to new buyers. Work on the first properties is expected to begin in Ansted, Mount Hope and Oak Hill later this year, with the first properties offered for sale in 2011. The entire project is expected to be completed across all four communities by 2013.

“At a time when local governments, especially smaller ones, are struggling with declining revenues, all four mayors believe that this cooperative approach to common objectives can help set a new standard for inter-municipal cooperation,” Ansted’s mayor stated.

The idea of submitting a joint funding application occurred to Hobbs while attending a meeting conducted by the West Virginia Development Office, West Virginia Housing Development Fund and the West Virginia Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. Representing Ansted – one of ten Blueprint Communities in West Virginia established by the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLBank) of Pittsburgh in conjunction with other public and private partners – Hobbs realized that his own town might have difficulty meeting certain application criteria on an individual basis. He then facilitated a meeting with the mayors of Mount Hope, Oak Hill, Smithers and the Fayette County Commission to discuss the merits of a multi-community application.

Ansted was named one of West Virginia’s Blueprint Communities in March 2007, creating opportunities for leadership training, strategic planning and capacity building, including potential access to funds like the NSP grant now approved. The grant helps Ansted support three areas of the strategic plan that its Blueprint team devised: housing development, community wealth retention and the creation of local jobs. The Ansted team was awarded the “Sustaining Promise – Designing a Comprehensive Strategy” award by a panel of Blueprint Communities judges in late 2007.

Inquiries concerning the availability of new or restored housing for sale as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program initiative should be directed to the following offices:

Ansted                         304-658-5901
Mount Hope                304-877-2211
Oak Hill                       304-469-9541
Smithers                      304-442-5282

Contact:
Romie A. “Pete” Hobbs, Mayor, 304-658-5901;
Laura Rye, FHLBank Pittsburgh, 304-291-5485,
Neil Cotiaux, FHLBank, 412-335-9488;

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