Program hopes to revive vacant homes - KCTV5

Program hopes to revive vacant homes

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

For the first time in nearly a decade, Kansas City, MO, is reviving a program because of a vacant house crisis.

Back in 1975 the city faced a foreclosure crisis. With the help of federal grant money, they sold homes for $1. While people won't get that price today, they could buy a home for a very low price.

The idea is to get new homeowners to purchase and remodel homes that are currently vacant.

"Both of these have been an eye sore for years," Leicester Ellison said.

Ellison knows what it's like to live next door to a foreclosed home. There is the fear of slum landlords, squatters starting a fire, criminals finding a place to crash or thieves ransacking vacant homes.

"The air conditioners - anything you can think of that sells at a junk has been taken out of there," Ellison said.

He bought the two vacant lots next door after the city tore the homes down.

"The city tore it down and I bought it and made a playground for my grandkids," Ellison said.

In an effort to improve the neighborhoods, some homes are up for sale for low prices.

There are 25 vacant homes up for sale. Bank of America donated properties they foreclosed on to the Homesteading Authority and the authority is trying to sell them.

"If someone has the capability to purchase property which can be at a very low price and fix it up, they can have a home," said David Park, the department director of neighborhoods.

Not just anyone can buy one of the homes up for sale. The city will run something similar to a background check to make sure the buyer is improving the neighborhood and not dragging it down.

"We don't want to sell a house and have it become a drug house the next day," Park said.

Ellison hopes the city will demolish the home so he can create a community garden or see the eyesore restored.

"Oh sure I'd be happy if someone fixed it up," he said.

People can see the 25 properties for sale online. Bank of America is also donating $20,000 for repairs of specific homes on the list and the online information also explains which properties come with the possibility of money for repairs.

Go to kchomesteading.org for more information.

Within the next month the city hopes to begin the Land Bank Program, which would allow the city to bid on a property at the tax foreclosure auction. This means the city will be more aggressive to demolish abandoned homes and purchase foreclosed homes to sell to new homeowners.

The Land Bank Program already has 515 structures officials are looking to either sell or demolish.

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