New Castle County to buy foreclosed homes

    New Castle County hopes to purchase and rehab a number of homes that are vacant due to foreclosure. Now they are getting the money to help do it.

    The number of foreclosures in Delaware’s most populous county is up 23% for the year, totaling more than 2,500 this year.  While that number continues to rise, the number of unoccupied homes is on the increase as well.  That’s why New Castle County officials have teamed up with the Delaware State Housing Authority to funnel $7-million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development into a program that will repair and resell foreclosed homes that now sit vacant.

    “We have one neighborhood in particular that has more than 15 foreclosed properties in it,” says New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (D).  He says the money from the federal government will help get those vacant homes occupied again.  The longer homes remain empty, there is an increased chance for them to become a quality of life problem, Coons says.  “Kids will break-in, you’ll have vandalism, you’ll have other property crimes, and eventually, it makes it harder and harder to sell any of the properties that are on the market.”
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    The county has teamed up with more than a dozen non-profit groups to repair the vacant homes and get them ready for sale.  So far, the county’s has purchased 22 foreclosed homes, and the rehab process is expected to get started in the next 45 days.  The main focus of the program so far has been the community of Garfield Park near New Castle.  That area has the highest concentration of foreclosed homes in the entire county.

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    31 homes will be purchased in the first year of the program, with another 38 expected to be bought over the next five years.

    Looking ahead, Coons says the county expects to see the rise in foreclosures continue into 2010.  He says, despite an expected growing trend in the economy next year, “Because there is a lagging trend when folks have lost their jobs or have financial problems and ultimately lose their homes, foreclosures will probably continue to rise throughout the year.”

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