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City’s foreclosed housing program deemed a success

Money earned will be reinvested in other properties

STERLING – The city has met its deadline to spend its federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program money, council members learned Monday night.

In fact, the city exceeded all the objectives mandated by the grant and has made enough money to continue buying foreclosed properties, said Mike Wolber, the city’s former building and zoning coordinator who now leads the program.

“Feb. 11 is the deadline that we had to have spent a certain amount of money,” Wolber said. “We had to spend what was awarded. We were awarded $2,779,859.”

As of Dec. 1, the city has spent $2,811,051, he said.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we’d have trouble spending $2.8 million, but sometimes it became a challenge,” he said.

Through the program, the city bought foreclosed homes to either rehab or tear down and rebuild. The new homes were sold to qualifying low- and moderate-income buyers, with incentives such as help with the down payments.

The money came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The money came in April 2010, and by Feb. 11 of last year, the city had to have spent 50 percent of its award, or $1,389,930, which it did. Another stipulation was that 25 percent of the money, or $694,965, had to directly impact families making less than 50 percent of the median income for Whiteside County.

“We’ve exceeded all of those,” Wolber said.

From the sale of 10 properties, the city has received a total of $575,893.

The city also is scheduled to close next week on a house at 905 Third Ave., and has received offers on two of the four remaining houses, he said.

“That money is going to be turned back in, reinvested, buy houses, rehab it, or whatever we need to do,” he said. “We’re sitting real well as far as money available to reinvest into houses that we can buy and rehabilitate.”

There is no timeline to spend the rest of the money, Wolber said.

Sterling Mayor Skip Lee said he was pleased with the impact the program had on the community.

“The properties have been marvelous additions to the community,” he said.

City approves final plat

STERLING – The council also voted to approve the final plat of the property owned by Emmanuel Baptist Church at 1904 18th Ave.

The lot was divided into two so the road could be dedicated to the city, said Sterling City Manager Scott Shumard.

"When Christ Lutheran School was originally built, they were not allowed to have an access easement off to the east of the property, so they needed to come in from the south," he said. "When the road was constructed there, it was more or less assumed that it was a public street and it was never dedicated as a public street."

Since it was a private road at the time, the city required the road be fixed to meet city standards.

"They put the money in it to fix the road up and then the church subdivided the lot and then dedicated the road to us to make it a public street again," he said.

To buy a house

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.

Applications and more information are available at the Code Enforcement office, 212 Third Ave., 815-632-6624.

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