Santa Fe Springs : More Funds Voted to Fix, Sell Houses

Times Staff Writer

In an attempt to promote home ownership and renovate deteriorating housing, the City Council has almost doubled funds for low- to moderate-income housing programs for the 1985-86 fiscal year.

The city's $33.4-million budget that went into effect this week includes $1.3 million in redevelopment funds for lower-income housing--an increase of $600,000 from last year. The new budget also provides for an additional carpenter for one of the city's two home-repair crews that assist homeowners in upgrading their properties.

The additional redevelopment funds for low-income housing will allow the city to expand a program begun last year in which the city purchases and renovates vacant, dilapidated houses for sale to low- and moderate-income renters.

The city expects to break even on the housing acquisition program and does not want to make a profit, city officials said. Instead, they said, the program aims to eliminate neighborhood "eyesores," keep out absentee landlords and provide an opportunity for home ownership to low-income families.

'Catalytic Role'

"A community is either getting better or it's getting worse," City Manager Don Powell said. "Somebody's got to start the ball rolling. If we in government can provide kind of a catalytic role, private money tends to follow."

About 60% of Santa Fe Springs' 3,600 families are low- to moderate-income, census statistics show. Rental housing is in such demand that a landlord "could rent a tent in Santa Fe Springs," Powell said. "And houses (for sale) turn around very, very quickly."

Under the housing acquisition program, the city may purchase as many as 10 vacant residences for repair in the coming fiscal year, Powell said. The city supervises and pays for renovation of each house, offering it for sale at market value--not more than $90,000, said Fernando Tarin, home repair program coordinator.

Prospective buyers are taken from a waiting list of 22 low- and moderate-income applicants, all of them renters in Santa Fe Springs who have never owned a home. (Under city guidelines, a family of four may not have an income of more than $24,000 per year to qualify. When the current waiting list has been exhausted, the city will accept further applications, Tarin said.)

Must Pay for Damage

Eligible families must obtain their own financing and agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the property caused by neglect.

City renovation of a house on Flallon Avenue will be finished Wednesday and the home will be offered for sale at about $90,000, Tarin said. The city bought the home for $67,600 and spent $17,000 in improvements, including a new carpet, remodeled bathroom, cement driveway, acoustic ceilings, aluminum windows, automatic sprinkler system, stucco exterior and landscaping.

Prospective home buyers in the low- to moderate-income bracket can seek low-interest federal loans to ease their monthly payments, Tarin said. If a family is unable to raise a down payment, he said, the city may consider lowering the price of the house and/or holding a $10,000 second mortgage. Tarin said that some of the dilapidated houses that the city would buy could be renovated and sold for less than the price of the Flallon Avenue house. Depending on their initial condition, he said, some of the houses could be resold in the $70,000 range.

In coming weeks, the city will purchase and begin renovation of a home on Jersey Avenue that has been condemned as a public nuisance, Tarin said.

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