Windsor Board studies housing

Published 8:38 am Thursday, June 16, 2011

WINDSOR – It’s a win-win situation.

If a measure tentatively approved by the Windsor Board of Commissioners last week is successful, vacant property in the town will be replaced by homes of tax-paying citizens.

The Windsor board agreed in principal to work with the Washington Housing Authority on a homeownership program. Part of the program will involve the town of Windsor turning over lots it currently owns to be purchased by perspective home-owners.

The town will be paid for the lots, but not until they are purchased by would-be homeowners. Town officials agreed to sell the lots for an amount that would cover the town’s cost associated with the property.

The agreement was with the Washington Housing Authority (WHA), which works in conjunction with the Mid-East Regional Housing Authority. The group’s Executive Director, Marc Recko, said the project would be beneficial to Windsor.

“The objective of the program is to move people from poverty back into the main stream,” he told the Windsor board. “The focus of the program is on the working poor.”

Recko said the home ownership program would allow those who are working and paying rent the opportunity to team with the Washington Housing Authority to resolve any credit issues and work toward home ownership.

Recko’s associate, Gina Amaxopulos, said most of the people who want to move to home ownership needed some help.

“We have figured out over the past six years the thing people need to sustain themselves,” she said. “They need a lot of education.”

Amaxopulos said the perspective homeowners would have to meet income requirements and work toward saving a portion of the down payment as well as clearing up credit issues. They will also have to attend classes which will help prepare them for the process of building or buying a home.

Recko also distributed photos of the homes that had been built in the Washington area through the program. He said the photos were not just the best homes, but were typical of all homes that were built.

“That’s the kind of housing I’d like to see around here,” Commissioner Joe Alexander said.

“This is not a housing project,” Commissioner Collins Cooper stressed.

Amaxopulos said Cooper was correct and that each home would be purchased and the homeowners would be self-sufficient.

“They are single-family homes,” Recko added. “They will be privately owned and will add to the tax base.”

Alexander asked if the WHA would assist with helping the applicants receive loans and was told the would-be homeowners would be aided through each step of the process.

Commissioner David Overton asked if the number of applicants would be limited and Amaxopulos said they would not.

“We need to over-enroll,” Recko said. “We can’t set a single timeline for everyone; it varies depending on certain things such as their credit standing. We feel like we could have houses going up in a year.”

Mayor Pro-Tempore Hoyt Cooper asked what would happen if a person had their own lot and Recko said they would help them tremendously.

The board discussed the cost of the lots.

“I’m under the impression you need reasonably-priced lots to make this work,” Overton said.

Recko said that was indeed helpful.

Overton said he didn’t feel the board could act to move forward during the meeting, but was in favor of the project.

Mayor Jimmy Hoggard suggested that while the process continues, all suitable lots owned by the town be investigated.

The board agreed by consensus to continue working towards transferring the lots to WHA and then selling them at reasonable prices when homeowners were ready to purchase.