STERLING – Nine down, six to go.
The Neighborhood Stabilization Program has been “very beneficial” for the city, its coordinator said Tuesday.
Mike Wolber, the city’s former building and zoning coordinator now leads the housing program. The city is on track to spend $2.7 million in federal grant money by its Feb. 11 deadline, he said.
Through the program, the city bought foreclosed homes to either rehab or tear down and rebuild. The new homes are sold to qualifying low- and moderate-income buyers, with incentives such as help with the down payments.
The federal grant money was used to buy 18 properties. Of those:
n Eight houses were demolished and new houses built. Six of the eight have sold; they are at 1003 W. Sixth St.; 1002 W. Fifth St.; 602 Dillon Ave.; 1405 Johnson Ave.; 609 Thirteenth Ave. and 701 Locust St.
The two yet to be sold are at 1411 Johnson Ave. and 905 Third Ave. The single-story home on Johnson Avenue is handicapped accessible, Wolber said. There are two full baths, including one in the master bedroom that will accommodate a wheelchair.
The asking price is $95,000 each.
n Three houses were rehabilitated and sold. They are at 710 Ave. D; 308 W. Seventh St. and 1104 E. LeFevre.
n Four houses are being rehabilitated and should be done in the next 30 days.
n Three houses have been demolished, leaving vacant sites.
Families who have moved into the new homes are “doing quite well,” Wolber said.
Some have made modifications – for instance, one couple replaced the living room window with a bay window, he said.
The housing program has been very productive, he added.
“I think we’ve eliminated some blight; we’ve eliminated some problem areas in the neighborhoods. Especially the houses that we’ve built new, we’ve seen immediate impact on adjacent properties ... [people] taking pride in ownership of houses.
“We’re seeing a general improvement in the whole neighborhood. That is the whole purpose of the program.”
By selling homes, the city added $500,000 to the original grant, and so has made more than $3 million in improvements. When the rest of the homes sell, the money will be added to the pot and the city will look for more properties to rehabilitate, he said.
To buy a home in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, buyers must have a household income of not more than 120 percent of the area’s median income, which in Whiteside County is $56,000 for a family of four.
They need not be first-time homebuyers or residents of Sterling to apply, but they cannot currently be homeowners.
Applicants also must complete an 8-hour HUD counseling and training session.
Applications and more information are available at the Code Enforcement office, 212 Third Ave., 815-632-6624.