December 4, 2003


Home, Inc. making plans for affordable housing effort

After a year spent laying the groundwork for a new affordable home building project, Yellow Springs Home, Inc. is ready to move ahead, the organization’s director, Marianne MacQueen, said Monday.

“ We’re taking our organization to the next level,” MacQueen said.

Home, Inc., a community land trust, plans to build four to six new affordable homes in the village over the next year and 10 or 11 in the next two years, she said. The homes will be scattered throughout town on what are currently empty lots.

Organizers are now seeking qualified buyers for the homes. To qualify, persons need to be making no more than 80 percent of the median income for the area. For one person, that amount is $33,000; for two people, $38,000; for a family of three, $43,000; and for a family of four, $48,000. There are no other requirements for eligibility, MacQueen said.

The land trust was recently notified that it received four low-interest mortgages from the Federal Home Loan Bank, a consortium of banks, MacQueen said. Home, Inc. applied for the mortgages, which offer a 3.5 percent interest rate plus low down payment and no closing costs, through a partnership with Cornerstone Bank.

Because the organization needs to submit a list of pre-approved potential home buyers by the end of the year, interested persons are urged to apply as soon as possible to Home, Inc., MacQueen said. She said that the organization will work with homebuyers to complete the pre-approval process.

So far, Home, Inc. has received requests from about 30 people regarding the homes, but organizers are seeking more applicants.

In the last year, Home, Inc. finalized the sale of its first two affordable homes, one on High Street and the other on West Center College Street, both of which were refurbished houses. In that time, the organization has also sought out potential building sites in the village for new affordable homes, MacQueen said.

She said that Home, Inc. currently has an option to purchase several empty lots. Negotiations with the owners of other empty lots are continuing, and there is the potential Home, Inc. could acquire 10 or 11 lots.

“ Finding properties takes a huge amount of time,” MacQueen said, since the negotiation process is complicated and sometimes delicate.

Home, Inc. has been talking to several local builders about the housing project, MacQueen said, but has made no final decisions.

In order to offer homes in the price range of $90,000 to $100,000, the organization uses several mechanisms, MacQueen said. Along with obtaining the low-interest mortgages, it has applied to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency for subsidies of approximately $30,000 per house. Home, Inc. is also working with the federal Rural Development Agency to procure mortgages with interest rates as low as 1 percent.

Affordable housing has become increasingly scarce in Yellow Springs, where last year’s median home price was about $160,000. According to the cost-of-living report published by the Yellow Springs Men’s Group, the village’s population is becoming older and more wealthy, and these trends are expected to continue, MacQueen said. She said that many teachers, Friends Care Community employees, store clerks and Antioch College professors cannot afford to live in town.

“ Many people who work here can’t afford to live here,” she said. “We feel it’s important for a community for people to live and work in the same place.”

Current members of the Home, Inc. board of directors are Andrea Adkins, Tony Bent, Stan Bernstein, Abby Cobb, Andrew Cook, Andy Holyoke, Ellis Jacobs, Lindie Keaton, Sue Parker, Kingsley Perry, Al Schlueter, Susan Stiles and Ilse Tebbetts.

Persons interested in applying for the low-interest mortgages may call Home, Inc. at 767-2790.

— Diane Chiddister