There's better use for federal money
The Pasco County Commission decided on a plan for money from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program passed recently by Congress and being administered by Housing and Urban Development, HUD. The program was designed to help alleviate the foreclosure crisis and help improve conditions in the most blighted neighborhoods.
To its credit, Pasco will be the only place in the Tampa Bay area where money will be used to help put new homeowners into foreclosures. Most of the money, however, will go into the purchase of foreclosures the county will place with the nonprofits and remove temporarily from the tax roll. The county will then supervise the repairs and eventually the homes will have to be resold. Pasco County rejected the idea that Pasco County agencies should be used and instead will be relying on agencies from outside, for the most part. We would much rather see the fees paid out and the profits (should there be any) stay in Pasco.
Pasco County staff insists that fixing a few houses here and there will improve conditions in our neighborhoods. The only thing that will really make a long-term difference in neighborhoods is putting homeowners inside. They are, after all, the best ones to do the improvements.
The local Realtors have been arranging meetings in recent weeks on another way to meet all the goals of the federal program. We are trying to pair those banks with foreclosures to builders hungry for work. The plan is simple. A builder meets with a bank officer immediately after foreclosure occurs and they make a list of the needed repairs. The builder then quickly brings in a work crew and in days accomplishes the necessary improvements that almost assuredly would take the county many months to complete. The builder simply agrees to wait for payment until the home closes. This would avoid unnecessary repair requirements put on the homes by HUD.
This would allow the home to be sold (repaired) using federal financing faster and would be available to all buyers in the marketplace. The work gets done faster, local workers get jobs sooner, new homeowners get a home that is repaired, neighbors get the immediate benefit of the work and the bank will inevitably get more money for the homes. By getting more people involved in the process and less government we could really improve our neighborhoods faster.
We were disappointed commissioners failed to put a requirement on the foreclosures that would have given preferential treatment to sales when the banks used local services. Right now most do not. That alone would have put more than $4-million in our local economy next year. Realtors also believe commissioners missed a golden opportunity to get more public input with an advisory board. That would have provided input from every area involved.
The West Pasco Board of Realtors will support the county effort as was approved. We understand how important every home and every opportunity for improvement is. We will also continue our own efforts in hopes that we can all work together to improve our neighborhoods and our economy as soon as possible. Pasco County Community Development manager George Romagnoli and his staff have worked hard in developing the program in a short period of time. While we may not agree all the time, he has always been willing to listen to new ideas.
Greg Armstrong, New Port Richey
A thank you for Thanksgiving
66 free feasts fill need | Nov. 28 article
The Community Service Council of West Pasco would like to thank the following individuals and their facilities for their generous donation towards the Thanksgiving meals:
Dana Ratcliff; Penny Domonkos and Jennifer Astuto of Atria Baypoint Village, Windsor Woods and Evergreen Woods; Eunice Sullivan of Braybrook Assisted Living; Diane Toland of Sunshine Christian Homes Assisted Living; and Rich Beason of La Casa Grande Assisted Living.
Vish and Sero Singh
Jennifer Gardens Assisted Living, Port Richey