Alliance promotes home ownership

People who want to move out of the neighborhoods near the University of Minnesota but donâÄôt want their homes to be turned into rental properties might have another option. A new program is underway in select blocks of the Southeast Como and Marcy Holmes neighborhoods that allows people to sell their property to the University District Partnership Alliance , which ensures the home remains owner-occupied. This program was established with the hope of striking a balance between rental and owner-occupied housing in the two neighborhoods. In the past ten years, they have both been inundated with a conversion from owner-occupied to rental properties. People can enroll their homes in an option program. When they decide to relocate they can exercise the option and sell to the alliance. Their home will then be rehabbed and resold to an owner-occupant. The Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation will act as the agent when it is time to sell the properties. Lisa Kugler , a GMHC consultant, said the funding for the program was taken from the $750,000 neighborhoods grant from the state Legislature. Of that grant, $550,000 will be used specifically for this program. Kugler said the target areas for the program are two, eight-block areas in the Southeast Como and Marcy Holmes neighborhoods. Katie Fourier , a Southeast Como representative on the Alliance Steering Committee , said most stable owner-occupied parts of the neighborhoods were chosen as the target areas. Twelve home owners have already signed options and five houses are in the process of being purchased, Kugler said. She anticipates there will be at least 20 options signed by the end of the year. Carol Drake and her husband signed an option in October for their house on 20th Avenue. Drake said she was worried about a landlord buying the property and wanted to make sure the neighborhood didnâÄôt lose any owner-occupied housing. âÄúWe feel that since weâÄôre retired the house will probably be passing to our estate, and it would be a lot easier for our kids to go through a program like this,âÄù Drake said. Fournier said some residents might stay longer in their houses because they are worried about the next buyer not taking care of the property. âÄúThe goal is to achieve an appropriate balance between owner occupants and rental properties,âÄù Fourier said. âÄúItâÄôs not to drive rental properties out of the neighborhood, thatâÄôs been a part of this neighborhood âÄî and most Minneapolis neighborhoods âÄî for many years.âÄù Home-buyer incentive program to debut next month A new home buyer incentive program will provide 15 five-year forgivable loans of $10,000 for a down payment on a house in the University district that the buyer intends to live in. The buyer will receive $2,000 back on the loan every year they live in the house for up to five years. The alliance, the University and the city of Minneapolis will provide $50,000 each, totaling $150,000 in funds. The funds from the city will not be available until 2009 and the UniversityâÄôs funds are designated for University employees only. Jan Morlock, director of University Relations , said she expects the program to launch next month. Morlock said 25 percent of University employees live in Minneapolis and only 3 percent live in the University district. She said she hopes this program will help increase the number of faculty that live close to campus. âÄúLiving near your work is good for the environment, employee wellness, and the campus community,âÄù Morlock said.