- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - The city of Dubuque plans to spend $4 million to buy, renovate and sell more than 50 houses near its downtown area over the next five years.

The Project 563 program is aimed at reducing rental housing downtown, upgrading dilapidated properties and increasing rates of homeownership, the Telegraph Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1vgxWGJ). The program will officially start in late November or early December, but the Dubuque City Council has already approved the purchase of three downtown properties.

Between 50 and 100 homes will be bought and rehabbed through the program, which is on the city’s five-year capital improvement plan.

“More people in a position to purchase a home does a lot of things,” said Alvin Nash, Dubuque’s director of housing and community development. “Number one, I think it increases the person’s personal development. … It’s an investment in the community. It’s not just a pass-through situation.”

City Council member David Resnick said he didn’t support the program, because it could be costly to taxpayers and create new challenges for low-income residents. He said some buyers won’t be interested in purchasing the homes if they’re required to live in them, and the city’s expenses likely won’t be offset by sales.

He said many residents are not financially secure enough to own a home.

“They need to rent,” Resnick said. “They are not ready to buy at this time.”

According to city officials’ estimates, about 70 percent of residences in Dubuque are single-family residences and the rest are rentals. But those numbers are reversed in the city’s downtown area.

Several properties have already been targeted for the program, though negotiations with owners haven’t started. Renters occupying them will be relocated with the city’s help.

City Manager Mike Van Milligen said Dubuque officials will offer multiple home-ownership incentives to make the renovated homes affordable for residents.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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