Casper - Federal stimulus money is finally hitting “home(s)” in Laramie County.
According to Wyoming Community Development Authority (WCDA) Federal Programs Coordinator Jennifer Crawford, Laramie County is eligible for the Wyoming Repair & Acquisition Program (WRAP), a key element of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).
This federal initiative utilizes stimulus funds for the purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed and/or abandoned homes in Laramie County. The homes are then sold to lower-income residents.
“This is a golden opportunity for some individuals and families, who would not otherwise be able to own their own home, to become educated in the responsibilities of homeownership, and become long-term homeowners,” Crawford said.
Congress delegated national program over-site to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For the state of Wyoming, the funds will be administered by WCDA.
According to Crawford, the first phase of the NSP began last summer with the selection and purchase of several foreclosed houses in Cheyenne. Since that time, those houses have been in the process of being rehabilitated.
Subsequently, additional houses have been purchased and rehabilitation is either
currently underway or is scheduled to begin shortly.
“The first four houses have been rehabilitated and are ready for sale,” Crawford said. “The others will be ready in the near future. Plus, over the next few months, we will continue selecting, purchasing, and rehabbing homes for the program.”
Public open houses for the first four houses are scheduled for the afternoon and early-evening of Feb. 17. Each of the houses will be open for public walk-throughs for an hour each. The first open house will begin at 2:30 p.m. at 1304 Adams. Each subsequent open house will begin every half hour thereafter.
Maps to the remaining three homes, WRAP information, WRAP applications, and information about each house will be available at the 2:30 p.m. open house at 1304 Adams.
HUD’s rules stipulate that all houses selected for the WRAP must be under contract to the WCDA or already be re-sold to eligible homebuyers by the end of September 2010. The WCDA requires that all homebuyers be first-time homebuyers, and the property remain owner occupied.
Further HUD guidelines mandate that a portion of these rehabilitated houses be sold to homebuyers that are at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The 50% AMI amount varies depending on the number of people that make up the household. In Laramie County, 50% of AMI for a family of four is $31,850 per year. 50% of AMI for a one-person household is $22,300.00 per year. A complete chart of eligible incomes by family size and county can be found at www.wyomingcda.com.
To determine eligibility for the program, Laramie County residents can log onto
www.wyomingcda.com and complete the application form. Once applicants’ eligibility has been verified by the WCDA, they are then entered into the program. All eligible participants will be required to complete a Homebuyer Education Course as well as one-on-one homebuyer and financial counseling.
Upon successful completion of the required educational courses, participants will be supplied with a list of available WRAP houses for them to tour. If the participants find a house they feel suits their needs, they then enter their name into a random drawing. The selected entrant then has the opportunity to purchase the house at the agreed upon price and terms, subject to final underwriting. Those names not drawn may stay in the program and continue to tour eligible houses; entering their name(s) in a drawing for the homes they would like to buy.
“Because this is a federal initiative designed to both reduce the number of foreclosed and abandoned houses, to stabilize neighborhoods, and to assist lower-income individuals and households become homeowners, the monthly mortgage payment amount will not exceed 31% of their gross monthly income,” Crawford explained. “Like I said, this is an incredible opportunity!”
The potential benefits of the WRAP are twofold, Crawford said. “It allows lower-income individuals and households to realize their dream of homeownership. It also puts foreclosed and abandoned houses back into service, which will stabilize property values as well as extend the economic life of the houses.”
For more information or to apply for the Wyoming Rehabilitation & Acquisition Program, log onto www.wyomingcda.com or call Jennifer Crawford at the WCDA at (307) 265-0603.