***This might be a good idea.*** – Jerry B
The plan is in the drafting stage and would be an expansion of an existing lease-to-own program.
As outlined in a white paper released Monday, “the program will identify and work intensively with qualified tenants to help them to become long-term, sustainable homeowners. The proposed strategy ensures that both the tenant and the property are positioned for a successful transition to home ownership.”
The plan, called the Tenant Transition to Ownership Project, will not solve the city’s foreclosure crisis. But for some renters, it could be the path to a home they can call their own. And for the city, it would mean one more home back on the tax rolls.
The city owns an estimated 950 homes because of tax foreclosures. Recently, the city treasurer’s office went to court asking for foreclosure judgments on 405 more properties. Not all of those properties will be taken over by the city.
City officials estimate that a third of the tax-foreclosed properties owned by the city are occupied by tenants who lived in the house at the time the foreclosure judgment was approved.
About 50 tenants are now getting counseling for homeownership.
The new plan expands that by enrolling 30 more tenants of tax-foreclosed property each year. And beginning in 2015, the city would transfer ownership of up to 30 properties a year to tenants.
To qualify, tenants must have the ability to pay at least $500 a month in rent to the city, be in full compliance with their lease, and pay an additional $100 a month to cover expenses related to the transfer.
The city, in turn, would refer the potential homeowner to a homeownership counseling agency under contract with the city’s Department of City Development. In addition, the city would invest public money, as much as $20,000 per property, to bring the home up to code.
At the conclusion of the tenant preparation period, which would last two years, the city would transfer the property to the new homeowner for $1.
Ald. Bob Bauman, chairman of the Special Joint Committee on the Redevelopment of Abandoned and Foreclosed Homes, said the program, if approved by the Common Council, ought to be run as a separate entity controlled by aldermen.
Department of City Development officials say they plan to tweak the program and bring it back to the committee this month.