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Olathe in Johnson County Kansas is making HAMP a Reality

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By : John Smith    99 or more times read
Olathe in Johnson County, Kansas just got itself a new bank to help it get out the local foreclosure mess. Only difference is, this bank didn’t help cause the problem, and it’s also 100% behind HAMP.

How does that work, you say? It’s a land bank, its assets are real estate, not other people’s money, and it’s controlled by the Olathe City Council and its salaried Finance Officers.

Using money donated by Washington under the Federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, the Olathe Land Bank will purchase derelict foreclosed properties from lenders, demolish these, and then sell off the vacant land for redevelopment.

“It’s about economic sustainability in local neighborhoods,” says Assistant City Attorney Ron Shaver. “The City can acquire properties that otherwise would not have any productive value.”

Shaver’s goal is to convert the mess back into tax income while improving property, all with the long-term goal of getting distressed City residents back into decent accommodation. So far the kitty stands at $348,000, he told me, and this is all earmarked for the Original Town Area.

The objective is to onward sell the reclaimed land at a profit within ten years to developers who will commit to building affordable housing on it. Olathe is not pioneering the concept, which is fairly common already in cities with dense residential areas, such as Overland Park and Kansas City, both of which are making good progress. By way of an example, Kansas City recycled land near the intersection of Interstate 70 and 7th Traffic Way, which was sold on to a developer who erected affordably priced condos.

Johnson County had the second largest quantity of foreclosed real estate in Kansas in 2009 – this lead to an award of nearly $4.5 million from the Stabilization Program. This relief is helping bring to reality local Director of Housing Services Kathy Rankin’s dream of re-stabilizing neighborhoods.

Properties have to be bought according to HUD guidelines, meaning that they have to be available at 15% max of their appraised value, and cost $200,000 or less.

In a separate self-sufficiency drive, the City Of Olathe has also bought up another eleven properties for renovation, some of which it will rent out, and others that it will sell to qualified families. So far three of these with good work records have met requirements, had their loans approved, and passed through a training program focusing on good stewardship. The grateful families are likely to take occupation in June this year when re-modeling is complete.

The other eight houses are all flagged with qualified renters names, and these will be moving in too when the work is complete.

“We’ve been very pleased with how smooth the program worked,” Olathe Housing Services Director Kathy Rankin said. “The city will maintain the properties and not allow those properties to go into disrepair. We look forward to being a good neighbor”.
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