With over 23,600 Florida foreclosures in Lee County alone, the local government is planning to purchase foreclosed homes up for sale to be rehabilitated and later sold to low income families. The move is also geared to help generate income for local contractors and help stabilize the rate of high crimes in these areas.
Most foreclosures in the county are concentrated in Lehigh Acres and Cape Coral, where up to 39 percent of homes are in various levels in the process of foreclosure. Incidentally, the Lehigh area also has high crime rates based on crime data from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Vacant homes have become a heaven for criminals trying to avoid detection. These homes have also become the target of thieves targeting building materials.
County officials are looking for homes in the target areas where 8 to 20 percent of housing units are foreclosure homes and have been vacant or abandoned for more than 90 days. Officials plan to buy these homes at 15 percent below their appraised value and the rehabilitation work will be posted for bidding to local contractors. Lehigh also has 480 abandoned construction sites. 272 have already been cleaned up by property owners while the local government has processed 82 and demolished two.
County officials expect to receive funds in the middle of January next year. Funds will come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of its federal neighborhood stabilization program to address foreclosures. Expected funds would reach $16 million and will be used to buy and recondition 165 single and multi-family homes, and an additional $400,000 for demolition work on 20 units. After rehabilitation, these will be sold to lower income families.
With $1.8 million in budget for administration work on this program, county officials are committing 18 months for the project completion. Rehabilitated homes should be occupied within a four-year period.
Leticia Carvalho has been educated in the finer points of the foreclosure market over 5 years.