Home assistance program gets new rules from Mohave County

KINGMAN - Homeowners in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program will have a 12-month grace period to catch up on arrearages and must allow their homes to be inspected for maintenance and upkeep, the county Board of Supervisors determined Monday.

The board voted 5-0 to approve the Mohave County Neighborhood Stabilization Program's forbearance policy and authorize the county administrator to sign forbearance agreements for a 12-month period.

Supervisor Buster Johnson pulled the item from the board's consent agenda to ask how long the county should "carry homes" before they go to foreclosure.

Mohave County is carrying 15 home loans under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a government-subsidized program to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed homes in targeted areas. The homes are then offered for sale to low- and middle-income families.

Buyers attend financial management classes and are eligible for down payment and closing cost assistance.

The goal of the program is to remove foreclosed homes in some of the neighborhoods hardest hit by the housing market crash and give families an opportunity for home ownership.

One particular family on the program is about six months behind on payments, said Dave Wolf, Housing and Community Revitalization Manager. The family went through a separation, leaving the wife with a mortgage she was unable to pay, he said.

The husband has since returned, though he just recently found new employment.

"This policy allows us to grant a certain period of time when we can accept lower payment and extend the loan period," Wolf said. "The only other option would be to move to foreclosure, which is not in the spirit of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program."

"My problem is six months arrearages," Johnson responded. "How long do we plan to allow arrearages before foreclosure?"

Supervisor Gary Watson made a motion to approve the NSP forbearance policy with a 12-month period and the ability to inspect properties.

In other action from Monday's meeting:

• Supervisors voted 5-0 to allocate Community Development Block Grant funds to county-wide projects. Up to three CDBG projects will be identified at public hearings in January, and the board will vote on the projects in February. CDBG grants had been equally divided between supervisorial districts in the past, but the portion will be reduced in 2016 with Colorado City coming into the split, said Susie Parel-Duranceau, director of Community Services.

• The board voted 4-1 (Supervisor Steve Moss opposed) to accept legal descriptions of new voting precincts approved in August.

Elections Director Allen Tempert said it took a couple of months to figure out which of the smaller precincts were encompassed by larger precincts and then rewrite physical descriptions. A map of the reconfigured voting precincts is available on the county website, Tempert said.

• The board voted 5-0 to table discussion on the sale, lease or possible land swap with the city of Kingman for the relocation of Fire Station 2 to a 3-acre portion of Mohave County Fairgrounds.

• The board voted 4-1 (Johnson opposed) to table discussion on the reporting structure of staff of the Office of Management and Budget as well as the overall staffing structure of Mohave County.

• The board voted 4-1 (Johnson opposed) to table discussion on going to a zero-based budget for fiscal year 2017.

The board elected Supervisor Jean Bishop as chairman and Supervisor Johnson as vice chairman effective Jan. 1.