NORTH SIDE New homes are rented to lower-income families

The homes are leased to those qualified with an option to buy.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The smile on Marguerite Tate's face told the story, a story of pride, excitement and the belief that she is building a better life.
"I feel very blessed," she said while giving a tour of her new four-bedroom home on Broadway, just off Belmont Avenue, near St. Elizabeth Health Center. "It's definitely a blessing."
Tate, her three children, and her fianc & eacute;, Kyle Gilchrist, are among the newest tenants of 10 homes built by Common Wealth Inc. and the NRP Group, community development companies on the North Side on what used to be vacant land.
Of the 10 homes, five are already occupied.
The companies build the houses and rent them to low- to moderate-income people. The houses are built using a combination of money received by the city, state and federal governments along with funds received from selling tax credits to investors, and lease payments.
"We used to live in a nice home on Crandall Avenue, but this is a lot better," Tate said. "It's brand new and it comes with everything. It's a new start for us."
The homes, worth about $100,000 each, are leased to qualified families, said Pat Rosenthal, Common Wealth's executive director.
Lease to own
After 15 years of leasing, tenants can buy the homes at reduced rates, primarily because the tax credits and lease payments pay down the mortgage, said Mark Whipkey, Common Wealth's director of development.
"Equity is being built with the tax credits so after 15 years, the tenants would have to pay about $20,000 to $30,000 for a $100,000 home," he said.
Residents are required to maintain the homes, pay rent on time and keep utility bills current, or risk eviction. Most people who move into the homes stay there, Whipkey said.
The 10 homes are located in the Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority's federal Hope VI area. The agency won a nearly $20 million grant in 2003 to overhaul an area in the city on and near U.S. Route 422, St. Elizabeth's, the Madison Avenue Expressway and Oxford Avenue.
Other homes
Common Wealth built 10 other homes under this program in Youngstown's North Heights area, and 26 in Coitsville Township, Rosenthal said. The Youngstown-based agency also has built homes for low- to moderate-income families in Campbell, Struthers, East Liverpool, Lisbon, Sebring, Beloit and Columbiana.
The company also is building 26 homes off state Route 616 in Youngstown to be finished by December, she said.
Doug Garver, Ohio Housing Finance Agency's executive director and a Youngstown native who attended Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony on Broadway, praised the teamwork used to build the homes.
"Economic development and community development doesn't happen in Columbus," he said. "It occurs on the local level. We are pleased to work with you, and look forward to working with you in the future."

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