The county approved a motion to put more than $1 million of federal funds toward the purchase and renovation of seven for-rent homes.
The Flagler County Board of County Commission approved the allocation of $1,029,844 from the Florida Department of Community Affairs to be used for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, in Bunnell.
The approved plan allows for the acquisition and rehabilitation of seven eligible homes to be rented to qualified households, determined by formulas involving area median income. The location of these homes — mapped by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development — was chosen based on areas of greatest need, as ranked by the Citizens Advisory Task Force.
“The real intention of this program … is to try to clean up some of our blighted areas,” Commissioner Milissa Holland said, noting that newly remodeled, inhabited homes increase the health of the surrounding housing market.
As per the program’s requirements, only households whose income does not exceed 120% of the area median income — or, according to 2010 numbers, $70,900 for a four-person home — are applicable. No less than 25% of the funds are to be used for families whose income does not exceed 50% of the AMI.
According to the strategic plan, $702,354 will go toward purchasing and renovating five properties to be rented to families with incomes between 50% and 120% of the AMI. A total of $257,461 will go toward buying two more properties, to be rented to families below the 50% AMI bracket. Last, $70,029 will go toward program administration.
Some residents, however, saw the program as inherently unfair.
“What kind of message are we sending to people that worked for what they have,” a P-section homeowner asked the board, “(when other people) just get it?”
Grant money comes from taxes, the resident noted. “It all comes from me. The buck stops and ends there.”
Another homeowner worried about property upkeep.
“Who’s going to be responsible for this?” he asked, claiming that renters don’t have the same pride in their homes as owners do.
The short answer regarding responsibility, Commissioner Nate McLaughlin pointed out, is Mid-Florida Housing — the nonprofit, low-income housing partnership. That organization will own the properties, with the option to resell them after 15 years. They’ll have an investment at stake, he said.
Deterioration yields deterioration, he continued, which affects crime and the housing market. “It’s a small effort, but it is an effort.”
The motion passed unanimously, with grant applications due to the state by June 2.