Twenty-one houses* will be on display to the public Sunday as part of a program aimed at rehabilitating foreclosed and abandoned St. Louis County houses.
"We're keeping the value up and we're making it affordable for the buyers," said Adam Roberts, a community development loan specialist with the county's Office of Community Development in Clayton.
The office administers the Neighborhood Stabilization Program using grant money made available by the federal stimulus program, Roberts said. It funds the acquisition and rehabilitation of the properties and ensures that federal rules are being followed. The office originally purchased 130 houses. Some have been sold, some have been rehabilitated to be leased and are not yet ready for sale.
The goal of the program is to restore houses that have fallen into disrepair in an effort to prevent surrounding property values from declining. Funds must be spent in targeted areas, such as those in which a number of subprime loans were provided and went into default, Roberts said. In St. Louis County, that includes properties throughout North County, beginning in Woodson Terrace, continuing east to the border of St. Louis City and going north to the Spanish Lake area.
The open house will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. A tour will begin at the Urban League, 8964 Jennings Station Rd. The office is hoping that between 200 and 300 people attend the event this weekend, Roberts said. A list of the houses that will be on display is attached to this article.
About 30 St. Louis County houses rehabilitated through the program were sold in 2010, Roberts said. Before rehabilitation, the average price of the houses is $30,000. After rehabilitation, the value of the house grows to between $80,000 and $120,000. Incentives of between $5,000 and $15,000 are available to purchasers. The money can be used toward a down payment and closing costs.
One of the goals of the program is to keep neighborhoods from deteriorating and their residents from moving away.
"Once it's know that they are vacant, squatters and thieves and burglars, they target these houses," Roberts said.
Dave Schott, a Realtor who works with Allman Builders, said the company has rehabilitated and sold about a dozen houses.
One of its current projects: Constructing a three-bedroom, two-bathroom ranch-style house in place of a functionally obsolete, 700-square-foot shotgun house at 220 Louisa Avenue in Ferguson. He said the project will probably take about three months.
To get to work on these county projects, Schott said, developers bid against each other. Whichever one is deemed to have the responsible low bid—that is, the county deems them able to get the job done at specified costs—wins the contract. In addition to getting financial help from the county, he said, Allman Builders has pulled in private bank financing that the company will pay back when the property sells.
Mathew Hartig is president of Rubicon, a building and general contracting company. He said the company has worked with the county for years on projects such as this one. It has rehabilitated more than 20 houses in the last two years as part of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program and plans to do another 10 this year.
The length of time spent to rehabilitate each house depends on requirements set by individual cities and the condition of the house. It can take as little as two months or as many as six, Hartig said.
It will have team members at houses in Spanish Lake, Woodson Terrace, Ferguson and St. Ann.
Roberts, with the county office, said it's possible a government shutdown could prevent the county from gets some federal funding for the rehabilitation program. But he said the office has access to other funds that should allow it to continue even if that happens.
*Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the number of houses that will be on the tour Sunday as part of the open house. A total of 21 houses will be on the tour.