Macon, Bibb approve deals to get $4.1 million in foreclosure money

The city of Macon and Bibb County moved a step closer Tuesday to obtaining an expected $4.1 million in federal funds to combat the effects of foreclosures and other blighting influences.

The Macon City Council and Bibb County Commission both approved at their Tuesday evening meetings inter-local agreements and resolutions that will allow them to apply for the funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

“I like the fact that it’s the city and county working together to deal with some issues of substandard housing and foreclosure,” Bibb Commission Chairman Sam Hart said. “I hope it’s a partnership that we can continue.”

The application is due Jan. 15, and officials should hear back about the funds by mid-February, said Jesse Gerwig-Moore, neighborhood division administrator for the Economic and Community Development Department.

Most of the money is planned to be used in the middle part of Bibb County in an area that HUD has identified as having a high risk of foreclosure. Because of a change in the plan that will focus only on areas with the highest risk, some neighborhoods, such as Lake Wildwood, no longer will be eligible for funding.

Officials plan to use the money in three ways:

Ÿ To redevelop a large tax delinquent, vacant and multi-family development in partnership with the Macon Housing Authority.

Ÿ To redevelop up to 50 tax delinquent vacant lots and obsolete housing through the Macon-Bibb County Landbank Authority and other housing partners.

Ÿ To create a “gap financing” program that provides down-payment assistance for purchasers of foreclosed properties.

Previously, Lake Wildwood had been discussed as a candidate for intense marketing for gap financing because of a high number of foreclosures in the area. However, now marketing will be aimed only in areas with a HUD foreclosure risk score of nine or 10, with 10 being the highest risk. Lake Wildwood does not fit into that criteria, Gerwig-Moore said.

“We’re limiting it to the highest needs areas,” said Kevin DuBose, director of the city’s Economic and Community Development Department.

Lake Wildwood residents have had concerns about the plan since it first was announced and recently took a vote stating they did not want to participate in the program, Commissioner Joe Allen said.

As a result of receiving the funds, officials estimate they’ll be able to leverage an additional $16 million in public, private and foundation funding and affect about 150 homes.

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 744-4345.