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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hernando could get $5.6-million to help foreclosure crisis



     BROOKSVILLE - Hernando County officials learned this week they could receive $5.6-million in federal aid to help low- to moderate-income families and to buy, repair and sell foreclosed homes now sitting vacant and deterioring in the county.

     The money will be awarded to communities based on their percentage of foreclosures, number of sub-prime mortgages and the risk of having more foreclosures. Hernando has been among the leaders among Florida counties in these and other indicators of economic stress, such as the unemployment rate.

      The funds will come through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Florida will receive nearly $600-million through the program.

     In September, larger Florida counties and cities were notified of how much their communities would receive under the act but smaller communities such as Hernando had to wait until the Florida Department of Community Affairs divvied up another $91.1-million. Hernando got the second largest of those 26 additional allocations.

     In order to receive the money, Hernando officials must create a plan that meets both the state and federal guidelines. The largest chunk of the allocation, $4.3-million, can go into programs to help families. The remaining $1.3-million must provide housing rental assistance for low-income residents.

     The funds can go to such purposes as buying foreclosed properties, repairing and then selling them to low- to moderate-income families. More details of what programs might qualify are expected when the state conducts training sessions for affected city and county officials later this month.

     Officials are scrambling to meet tight deadlines to prepare plans by March. They plan to talk to business leaders to devise ways to help as many residents as possible, said Jean Rags, Hernando director of health and human services.

Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:41am]


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