Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Board Transfers Lots for Home Project ; Nonprofit Sets Goal of 50 Center City Dwellings WHO OWNS THAT?

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Board Transfers Lots for Home Project ; Nonprofit Sets Goal of 50 Center City Dwellings WHO OWNS THAT?

Article excerpt

The Rev. Adrian Brooks said his Memorial Community Development Corp. is taking on a major house-build in Evansville's Center City. His goal is 50 rental houses for people of lowto-moderate income. It will be funded through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, which are given to qualified developers. Memorial, as the developer, will sell the taxpayer credits to investors to raise capital for the construction.

The Evansville Board of Public Works on Thursday finalized the deed transfers of 14 empty lots at no cost, which will be part of the initiative, from city government to Memorial. The 50 or so homes will be built on those lots and others Memorial owns.

Brooks said the home build will mirror others across the city and the nation. Memorial will collect rents, but after a 15-year "affordability period," a home's occupant is able to obtain equity in the property if he has paid rent on time.

"Any statistic will show you a majority of a family household's wealth is tied to their home," Brooks said. "To me, this is just a creative way to create homeowners within the city It's important to create opportunities for wealth and empowerment for people who otherwise might remain renters forever."

The city obtained the 14 properties in recent years by using Community Development Block Grant funds, said Kelley Coures, community development coordinator for the city's Department of Metropolitan Development.

Block grant funds are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Under HUD rules, Coures said, properties the city obtains through grants must further HUD's national objective.

"It means you have to do something to benefit low-to-moderate income people with them," Coures said.

Brooks, whose nonprofit corporation owns and operates other rental housing units in the Center City, said he has two prototypes for the upcoming construction blitz - one-story homes with three bedrooms and two-story homes with four bedrooms.

"It's a huge undertaking," Brooks said. "It's going to take us a year to put this project together, and it's a year-and-a-half of construction involved, and that will put a lot of people to work as well You've got currently vacant lots that will eventually be enhancing quality of life and bringing back population. …

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