• 10
  • September

Central Florida will get nearly $48 million in federal funds to improve foreclosure afflicted neighborhoods and assist would-be homeowners, officials announced Thursday.

The money is a part of $1 billion in "Neighborhood Stabilization Program" funds from the Obama administration meant to help local housing authorities across the country buy and renovate abandoned properties. The money can also be used to assist with down payments and closing costs to low and moderate income homebuyers.

Florida has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country and will receive the largest amount from the program totaling around $208 million. The latest grants are the third and possibly final round of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development neighborhood stabilization funding. The Central Florida grants consist of $11.5 million for Orange County, almost $4 million for Seminole and more than $3 million each for Lake, Osceola and Brevard counties and the city of Orlando.

The money is from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed this summer. It follows two previous rounds of neighborhood-stabilization efforts including the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 that provided $3.92 billion nationally and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that administered $2 billion also across the nation.

In 2009, Orlando received $6.7 million from the first round of HUD grants. The city used the money to buy 44 foreclosed homes and created 200 jobs for construction workers, contractors and landscape architects. Although the rate of mortgage defaults in Orange County already is slowing, Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando said, the region "still can use all the help we can get."

Not only does the program rehabilitate properties, it also seeks to prevent future foreclosures by requiring financial counseling for families receiving homebuyer assistance. Additionally, one new feature of the program is that rental property is being offered first to nonprofit organizations that want to use it for clients who have some kind of disability.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Feds Give Central Florida $48 Million to Battle Foreclosure Blight", Kate Santich, 9/9/10