Program helps home buyers

Central City grant aids rural housing

By Ann Haggerty Gazette news intern

The Gazette, Feb. 22, 1997

CENTRAL CITY — The Metro Area Housing Program has been awarded nearly $150,000 to create affordable housing in Central City in it first major rural initiative. The grant, given by the Iowa Department of Economic Development, will allow families to purchase an $80,000 house for as little as $55,000. The maximum amount of money given toward each of the six planned houses is $25,000.

Tori Barnes, rural development coordinator at the Metro Area Housing Program, said the agency, which opened 41/2 years ago, now has the funding and staff to expand its services to rural communities. Central City, she said, is the first project, but not the last.

“Our idea is that this is not a one time thing,” she said. “Our goal is to have rural communities have affordable housing too.”

Pastor. Gary Hoyt of the First Methodist Church in Central City — and a member of the task force that helped obtain the grant — said families from out of town come to the church asking about affordable housing.

“We think the grant will mean that individuals and families of all shapes and sizes will be able to afford housing,” he said. “There is a shortage of appropriately priced homes for families willing to move here.”

Debbie Klein, co-chairwoman of the task force, said housing will bring more people to Central City’s schools, which need higher enrollments. More people also will help business in Central City.

The timing was perfect, Hoyt said, because while the task force sought potential funding from n e w sources, the Metro Area Housing Pro­ gram was ready t o expand its services to rural communities.

“When they found out there was a community ready and waiting with a structure in place, they were more than ready,” he said.

The Metro Area Housing Program has purchased three lots on Broadway Street for the construction of these houses and is looking t o buy three more lots. The lots have been cleared, Barnes said, and contraction will begin this spring.

Each home, on a 50-by-162-foot lot, Barnes said, will have three bedrooms, around 1,000 square feet of living space and a full basement.

Under the grant, Barnes said, City State Bank in Central City has given them an interest-free loan to build the homes.

To become eligible for on of the new homes, families can take a home buyer’s certification class at the Metro Area Housing Program, 701 Center Point R d . NE, Cedar Rapids. To sign up for the class, which teaches the financial responsibilities of home-owning, call 365-3501