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NSP ready for phase 2 of program

CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Neighborhood Stabilization Program has fully allocated all of the $2.7 million federal grant used to start the program and generated close to $1 million in housing sales. Officials announced the next phase of the program this week.

The Rockdale NSP, also referred to as Revitalization of Communities initiative, has sold nine properties this year with three under contract, one still available and another house where renovation work was continuing, according to Tanesha Lanier, Rockdale County NSP coordinator.

On top of the federal grant funding that was awarded to the county in March 2009, Lanier reported to the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners on Monday that the program has generated about $900,000 in revenue from house sales. She explained that money will go back into the program to purchase and renovate houses.

The Rockdale NSP will move into a second phase of home sales. The Board of Commissioners approved the purchase of five more houses during its regular session Tuesday at a total cost of $535,188.

Lanier said in her presentation that the amount included cost for acquisition, development and full renovation of the properties.

One of the newly purchased properties is located in the Crescent View neighborhood off Hi Roc Road. The Rockdale NSP had purchased and renovated five other houses in the neighborhood, which was the location where county officials kicked off the program in February.

The Rockdale NSP is funded with federal economic stimulus money through a grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The purpose of the program is to find qualified home buyers to purchase foreclosed houses.

Lanier said qualified applicants who have purchased houses through the program have paid less than $500 on closing, with some "coming close to zero" to cover closing fees.

Along with counseling in home ownership, the Rockdale NSP also provides 5 percent in closing costs and $14,500 in home buyer assistance that is taken as a reduction in the principal of the home loan, Lanier said.

Asked by Commissioner Oz Nesbitt if anyone has moved to Rockdale County from elsewhere because of the program. Lanier said yes, but the NSP is open to anyone who meets the program's requirements, regardless of where they currently reside.

"We have some who were already residents of Rockdale County, but the application process is open to anyone interested in home ownership," she said. "Some of the applicants who have closed had moved from the surrounding counties including Gwinnett, Henry and DeKalb."

Rockdale County was required to have all federal grant funds obligated to the local NSP by Sept. 5. The deadline is one imposed by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to all jurisdictions receiving NSP grant money. The deadline is a mechanism written into the Congressional appropriations bill to ensure the money is used for its intended purpose. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs is charged with overseeing the NSP grants in Georgia.