15 “Tipping Point” Houses Rescued, Rehabbed

Allan Appel PhotoTracey Hie lives so close to the McDonald’s near Ferry and Exchange Streets that when he comes home from work, he can hear each and every order shouted out from the drive-thru. Not for long, though. Within two weeks he and his family will be moving into a splendidly gut-rehabbed 1900s house that completes a group of 15 home the city bought and sold to non-profit developers to diminish the effects of the foreclosure crisis.

Tuesday afternoon 212 and 194 Dover St. in Fair Haven were part of a double ribbon-cutting ceremony. The event drew the soon-to-be owners like the Hies and Curtis Rhodes, who is moving into 194, along with city and state officials and non-profit developer NeighborWorks New Horizons, which developed the property.

They were there to mark a red-letter moment for the city’s use of $3.2 million obtained in 2008 via the Housing Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (aka the “Stimulus” law).

The city leveraged that money, with the help of partners like the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund, into $5.2 million to pay for its Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). Its aim: to purchase “tipping point” properties, foreclosed houses whose rescue might keep a block from falling into dereliction.

Click here for a story on the launching of the city’s NSP program at 194 Dover in September 2009.

And here for the story of another house on Perkins Street, also part of the NSP program that rescues foreclosed properties in fragile areas of the city.

Rhodes’s house at 194, with its original stairs and banister, and the Hies’s at 212, with two sun rooms, are the 14th and 15th properties whose redevelopment has been completed with the funds.

A retired corrections officer, Rhodes hopes to move into the three-bedroom and one-and-a-half bathroom house with his 19-year-old daughter.

He said he loves the banister and appreciates the hook-up for washer and dryer, which will come in handy when his first granddaughter, two-month-old Jaylae, comes over to visit.

“I plan to do a lot of laundry,” he said.

The Hies, who with their two teenage daughters will be moving into 212 after the upcoming closing, have a rental unit in their house. Their upstairs and the downstairs units both have sun rooms.

Using the NSP funds, the city, through the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), bought 194 Dover out of foreclosure for $34,000. It sold the house to to NeighborWorks New Horizons for $39,000. The sale price to Rhodes is $129,000.

The cost to gut-rehab the house, performed by Abel Chaparro and his Villa Gesell builders of Bridgeport, was $300,000. The difference in the construction financing came through the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund.

212 Dover was also a victim of foreclosure when the EDC purchased it for $75,000. Neighborworks bought it for $85,000 and is poised to sell to the Hies for $147,000.

To be eligible for purchase, buyers must fall into an income level at 50 to 120 percent of the area median income or AMI. For four people in New Haven, that would be $89,000, according to NeighborWorks New Horizon officials at the event.

Troy Hie, who works for Metro North, is handy with kitchen countertops and plans to replace the formica. But that’s down the road.

NeighborWorks New Horizons Executive Director Seila Mosquera-Bruno called Dover Street “the perfect street” for this intervention.

Carla Weil of the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund said, “The real impact is to see these folks move in here today.”

Mayor DeStefano said the city had done so well with NSP money that it has attracted an additional $1.86 million, which will be used in the same manner.

The last word Tuesday was left to Troy Hie, and echoed by Rhodes: “We got a house. Now we’re going to make it a home.”

The festive proceedings ended in tours and lunch. Lee Cruz of the Chatham Square Neighborhood Association briefed the new neighbors on the organization and its many activities, including a community dinner supporting a local restaurant tonight.

Mayor DeStefano, before departing, turned to the about-to-be homeowners assembled on the porch and reminded them to be sure to be registered and to vote in the mayoral election on Nov. 8.

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posted by: Yaakov on October 26, 2011  8:18am

I’ve seen very few places in this country that hold as much potential as New Haven.  We have such beautiful housing stock, and it’s programs like this that are helping to revive it.

posted by: anon on October 26, 2011  12:24pm

Obama needs to triple the funding for this type of program. 

If we continue to disinvest in our urban centers and build new structures in far-flung greenfields instead, our country is headed into the abyss in terms of financial sustainability, energy use, etc.

posted by: LeeCruz on October 26, 2011  3:35pm

Great Article, NeighborWorks, The Community Loan Fund, the City and the federal government are on target with this sort of investment in Neighborhoods. We cannot afford not to do this.

The Chatham Square Neighborhood Association welcomes all who want to live in our neighborhood. We list all our community events here: http://chathamsquare.ning.com/events
Join us at anyone or all of these events.