NEW CASTLE, PA. Officials OK first-time buyers plan

The home-buyers program is an effort to stop blight and absentee landlords.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- For an initial $1 investment, city officials plan to jump-start a new first-time home buyers program.
The city plans to buy, rehabilitate and eventually resell the house, but neighbors say they don't like the idea.
Council voted Thursday to buy 908 Delaware Ave. from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through its $1 Buy Back Program. A $1,000 fee will be paid to Butler Realtor Drew Ley who brought the house and program to the city's attention.
Mayor Timothy Fulkerson said the house will be the initial start of a first-time home buyers program the city wants to start. City workers will help rehabilitate the home and it will eventually be sold.
HUD: However, Delaware Avenue neighbors asked city council to put off buying the house so they can contact HUD.
"There have been several attempts by people to purchase this home and they have been turned down by HUD. We are concerned about the property values in the neighborhood because of the selling price of the home," said Kathy Narlee of East Moody Avenue.
Fulkerson assured the neighbors that the home will not be resold by the city for $1, but it will likely be sold for about half the appraised value to make it affordable to a low-income, first-time buyer.
The money made on the sale will go back into buying and rehabilitating other houses for the program, he said.
Plague: Councilwoman Patricia May said city officials agreed to buy the house and make it part of a first-time buyers program to keep it out of the hands of absentee-landlords that plague the city.
"Absentee landlords have helped take down city neighborhoods by letting blight set in. I think this is a step in the right direction," she said.
Councilman Stephen Vitale, who lives near the Delaware Avenue home, voted against buying the home, saying he would prefer that city officials postpone action on the matter and let the neighbors try to buy the home.
May and Councilman Rick DeBlasio voted to go forward with the purchase. Councilmen Robert Bullano and Mark Elisco were absent.
Grant funding: In other business, council approved the release of grant funding for the Greater Community New Castle Development Corporation. Up to $250,000 from the Enterprise Zone Loan/Grant Fund and $150,000 from the Renaissance Grant Fund will be used to move four homes from East Lincoln and East streets to Grant Street. The homes will become part of a cul-de-sac business district and sold to private owners.
Council also agreed to give city Solicitor James Manolis permission to file condemnation papers on eight Grant Street properties that will be demolished to make way for a parking lot and park area.
That property is part of the downtown revitalization project which is an effort to spur professionals and businesses to relocate in the downtown area.

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