Stabilizing neighborhoods, strengthening communities
When orange, yellow or red papers are affixed to front windows and weeds are creeping up to knee level in the yard, that’s usually a telltale sign a home was foreclosed.
It’s not a particularly pretty sight, and it’s even less pretty for the former owners, with their credit scores blasted to smithereens, or for the neighbors, as the values of their homes erode because of the derelict property over the fence or up the street.
A story in Sunday’s Observer-Reporter detailed how some of these homes in Washington and Charleroi were rescued from decay and placed back on the tax rolls thanks to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, a federal endeavor that has been administered locally through the Washington County Redevelopment Authority.
Using $1.5 million in federal funds that arrived in 2009, shortly after the housing bubble burst, the redevelopment authority, working in concert with Uniontown’s Threshold Housing Development Inc. and Mon Valley Initiative Inc. of Homestead, was able to purchase 21 foreclosed properties that were sold at sheriff’s auctions, rehabilitate them and make them habitable again for fresh buyers.
It has proven to be so successful that four additional homes were purchased and refurbished, and county commissioners recently agreed to keep the program going on a self-sustaining basis.
While government can’t solve each and every problem, neither can the “invisible hand” of the market.
The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and the way it strengthens communities both in Washington County and elsewhere, is an example of the best kind of intervention.