County submits plan to HUD for housing program

KINGMAN - Mohave County is going after more than $1.9 million in stimulus funding through the creation of a new housing program designed to stabilize neighborhoods that have been hit hard by foreclosures. Deputy County Manager for Health and Community Services Susie Parel-Duranceau explained the program to the Board of Supervisors Monday and asked that Board approve the plan for submission to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mohave County is one of three counties in Arizona that is eligible for more than $1.9 million in stimulus funding from HUD to help with the foreclosure crisis. The other two counties are Maricopa and Pima.

The plan is to have the county purchase foreclosed or abandoned homes, hire contractors to bring them into a livable condition and then sell them to families that meet certain income requirements, Parel-Duranceau said. The idea is not only to offer low-income families a chance at buying their own home, but to stimulate the housing and job markets and clean up properties that may have been abandoned.

In order to be eligible for the program, families must have an income that is at least below 50 percent of the American minimum income level or up to 120 percent above the income level, she said. The families will have to go through financial counseling through a HUD approved program and be able to qualify for loans from local banks or directly through the county, Parel-Duranceau said. Families will also have to contribute at least 3 percent of the cost of the house to the program.

The department plans to use the county's Section 8 housing program to look for eligible candidates, she said.

It plans to acquire and put through the program 20 homes in each of the three supervisor districts for the program, Parel-Duranceau said. Developmental Services will start looking for homes within the limits of three major metropolitan areas of the county first. They have identified three areas in each city that have been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, the area around the fairgrounds in Kingman from Stockton Hill Road to the west to Fairgrounds Boulevard and Harrison Street to the east and from Detroit Avenue to the north to Robinson Avenue to the south; in Bullhead City an area from Riverfront Drive to the north to Hancock Road to the south and from River Garden Drive to the east to Riverfront Drive to the east; and in Lake Havasu City an area from Smoketree and South Cisco Drive to South El Dorado Drive to North McCulloch Boulevard and North Acoma Boulevard.

The county plans to purchase five homes in Lake Havasu and Bullhead City and seven in Kingman for the program, Parel-Duranceau said. The department is working with local real estate agent to identify likely homes. The county is hoping to keep the average purchase price for the homes at around $69,000, the rehab costs to around $15,000 and a maximum of 5 percent of the loan and closing costs for the purchase of the house for families that are 50 percent below the minimum income level, which adds up to an average of about $88,000 per home, she said.

The county plans to work with local banks to help residents above the 50 percent income level to get loans and will offer a 30-year, 4 percent fixed rate mortgage for those below the 50 percent income level, Parel-Duranceau said.

" A lot of thought and research went into this," Board Chairman Buster Johnson said. He asked why they weren't considering areas with mobile or modular homes.

The resale value on those types of homes was not high enough to use them to start the program, Parel-Duranceau said. The key to the whole program was being able to resell the houses. Once a home in the program was sold, the money from the sale was put back into the program to purchase the next home. The county had to be able to sell the houses in order to keep the program going, she said.

"I think it's a great idea. It not only provides homes, but jobs for people," District II Supervisor Tom Sockwell said.

The Board unanimously approved sending the plan to HUD for approval. It will take 45 days for HUD to approve the project.

For more information on the program contact Development Services at (928) 753-0723. To view maps of the project areas visit, www.co.mohave.az.us/housing.