Thursday, July 14, 2011

CFW: Neighborhood stabilization effort to renew Westway

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Bryant Enge, Administrative Services Director. 253.835.2510
Brook Lindquist, Executive Assistant to City Council, 253.835.2401

Neighborhood stabilization effort to renew Westway

The Westway neighborhood has struggled during the housing crisis but the City of Federal Way is helping the neighborhood fight back. With the help of a $1.69 million federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant the City will purchase, restore and sell 14 foreclosed homes.

“The Neighborhood Stabilization Program gives us the tools to prevent foreclosed homes from dragging down the value of the surrounding neighborhood,” said Bryant Enge, Administrative Services Director. The City is partnering with Habitat for Humanity to purchase and repair the 14 homes with the intention of selling the refurbished houses to middle- and low-income buyers.

With a concentration of low-income housing, the Westway neighborhood has been particularly hard hit by the housing crisis and predatory lending practices. The grant funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development are intended to assist cities in keeping low-income neighborhoods affordable and livable.

“Having a large number of empty, deteriorating structures can start a downward spiral in a low-income neighborhood. That negatively affects surrounding neighborhoods and property values,” said Enge. “Turning around this many foreclosed homes will give the neighborhood positive momentum.”

As important as the federal grant is, city officials stress that the ambitious housing stabilization effort hinges on community participation. Habitat for Humanity plays a key role in the purchase, restoration and re-sale of the homes. Local volunteers, churches and community organizations will be needed to perform the renovation.

City officials also hope that community organizations can help spread the word about housing availability when the homes go back on the market. Northwest Church, AmeriCorps, and the Build The Bridge Coalition are a few of the community partners who are currently assisting the Westway community.

Habitat for Humanity will begin purchasing homes by early fall 2012 and renovation work is expected to begin shortly after. The City plans to have all 14 homes renovated and sold by March 2014.

Proceeds from home sales will be re-invested in further housing stabilization efforts, maximizing the positive impact of the federal grant. .

Volunteers interested in working with Habitat for Humanity on the housing renovation work can call 206.292.5240. For more information on the City’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant, contact Bryant Enge at 253.835.2510.


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