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Low-Cost Loans to Give 4 More Neighborhoods a Lift

From Times Wire Services

Four declining city neighborhoods have been targeted for renovation through a program that offers grants and low-interest loans to homeowners, Mayor Tom Bradley said Monday.

More than $2 million in federal community development funds from the city and an additional $1 million in private contributions has been pledged for Neighborhood Housing Service renovation programs in Vernon, Boyle Heights, Crenshaw, and the Barton Hill area of San Pedro, Bradley said.

The mayor, joined by business and insurance industry leaders and representatives of the service, a nonprofit public and private network established in 1978 to reverse neighborhood decline, made the announcement at a news conference and block party held in the Vernon area Monday.

At least 12 loans with interest rates as low as 6% have already been made, and renovation has begun on some of the estimated 4,000 affected homes in the neighborhoods, city officials said. An estimated 68,000 people live in the areas.

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Neighborhood Housing Service programs have existed in Inglewood, La Habra, Santa Ana, Pasadena and parts of San Bernardino County for the past seven years.

Nationally, the service has revitalized 200 neighborhoods in 136 cities. More than $3 billion in reinvestment in those neighborhoods has been triggered by the program.

“With this program, residents take a new pride in their homes,” Bradley said. “We’re committed to restoring these neighborhoods.”

Officials project that the program will trigger about $50 million in reinvestment while improving living conditions in the neighborhoods.

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Douglas Ford, general manager of the city’s Community Development Department, said the agency’s program is unique because it allows residents to participate in planning the renovation of a neighborhood.

“It’s a grass-roots kind of thing,” Ford said. “There’s a lot of peer pressure, and once one house is complete, heads come together on which house should be next.”

Costs of operating the program, expected to take five years, are shared by the city and about 40 businesses.


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