Twenty-six homes within Hidden Hills are going to be purchased, renovated and sold with the anticipated average sale price of $120,000. That’s according to the (RFP) No. 11-500187 .
The Hidden Hills was chosen for the NSP 3 Grant, first was meeting the requirement that there be “The presence of an active community/neighborhood group that is already working to improve the area.” For the next two years Hidden Hills will be under the microscope for the success or failure of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. A success would look like increased citizen participation, a reinvest of dollars into the community, and increased home ownership. A failure might look like little renovations, more renters, no increase in investment dollars, just historical pictures on a website touting NSP3 but no real change.
After attending a meeting with the major players of the NSP 3 Grant I cannot predict a success or failure, but I can say what I learned caused me concern.
The general contractor, according to the regulations of the grant, is from the community, but was surprised that--
Properties were built in the late 70’s early 80’s
Properties had large, overgrown, trees (adding to the cost of renovation)
Properties had lots of mold and moisture issues
Due diligence prior to bidding on such contracts would have given the contractor all of this information.
One of the challenges, stated by the contractor upon inspecting the homes, was that these homes were built to codes from back in the 70’s and current refurbishing will have to pass and exceed current code, which will add to the cost. It was hinted that current investors renovating property might save money by not building quite up to code. Are all building contractors held to the same standards and practices under DeKalb County Inspections?
Another criteria for Hidden Hills to receive this assistance were the number of foreclosed homes in the area. Unfortunately the realtors assigned to the project, also from the area, are having great difficult finding and bidding on these foreclosed homes. When they find one, by the time they push through the paperwork, meetings, and other bureaucracy, they have been out bid by other investors. Why it takes longer for the County to purchase a foreclosed property than an investor is a mystery.
There are also monetary constraints. The suggested resale price of $120,000 is not realistic for newly renovated four bedroom, three bath, homes available in Hidden Hills. It could be more. Presently the contractor is estimating renovation costs up to $90,000 for a house that cost $30,000 so is working to keep that renovation number lower so there is an opportunity to put money back into the grant. The loss is calculated on a per house basis, estimating the assessed value after the renovation. One might interpret this to mean homes needing the most renovation will be left in the neighborhood because the cost would out value suggested resale price.
Whether it’s the restrictions, the bureaucracy, or the political engine, the clock is ticking on this project and the progress is slow. The opportunity for revitalization, employment, home ownership and partnership with the residents in the area have not yet come to fruition. This is an opportunity for the County to shout but little is heard about this project, even in the area it is taking place.
For updates on this project see: http://www.co.dekalb.ga.us/commdev/pdf/NSP3QPR2ndQ2012.pdf
Hidden Hills has assembled a community oversight committee to monitor the progress of this opportunity for our community. Committee members include David Brice, Heather Dash, Deborah Spooney, Ken Saunders, III, VP of Community Affairs, Wendall Ervin, President, Phyllis Frierson, Secretary, HHCA