City seeks changes in program to lure more homebuyers to Kings

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

[10/12/02]Vicksburg officials will seek permission from the Mississippi Development Authority to reduce the number of houses in a project in Kings and increase the amount of the closing subsidy available to buyers.

City officials announced the project to put 21 homes for low- and medium-income families on a four-acre tract at Roberts and North Washington streets. The city received a grant for $250,000 from the MDA and planned to combine that with $68,840 in home assistance loans to grant money to buyers for a down payment, closing costs and other initial expenses. A family of four with an income of less than $37,850 was supposed to qualify for a grant up to $15,000 in order to lower their monthly payments to less than $500.

The city administration reached an agreement with Quality Development Inc. of Jackson to have the two- and three-bedroom homes sell for $40,000 to $50,000.

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However, in the more than 18 months the program has been available, only two homes have been built and only one has been sold.

The problem, said Beatrice Moore, director for housing and community development for Vicksburg, is the final cost of the homes turned out to be $75,000 and few of the 160 or so families who have applied to be purchasers were able to qualify or were willing to complete the purchase.

“We have a deadline of May 2003,” Moore said. “After that, the state could start to take the money back.”

In order to encourage more people to apply in the hope that more people will be able to make the purchase, she said the city is asking the MDA for permission to cut the number of homes in the project from 21 to 15 and increase the subsidy to a maximum of $21,350.

At the same time, Moore said, the city is trying to work with Quality Developers to lower the selling price of the future homes.

With the combination of the two factors, she said city officials hope they will be able to find more people who want to live in Kings and who can afford the lowered monthly payments.

“We’re hoping to get (monthly payments) down to less than $200 a month,” she said.

Moore also said the city is also working with the local Habitat for Humanity organization for that group to buy some of the lots, build houses and offer them for sale.

She said the city has about eight potential purchasers it’s working with now in the hope they will be able to buy a house in the project area.