City Program Helps Mother Rebuild Home
A single mother and her children are now living in a safe new home thanks to a City of Melbourne State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program that helps low-income families rehabilitate and keep their family homes.
In 2007, Stacy McCray and her four children had to move out of the home she had owned for 35 years because it had fallen into disrepair and was deemed unsafe to occupy. While living in public housing, she took classes at Home Depot and learned how to make the needed repairs to her home herself so that she and her family could move back in. However, the home later became infested with termites and could no longer be repaired. It had to be demolished and rebuilt.
Ms. McCray works at a fast-food restaurant and receives some assistance for her four children, one of whom has special needs. She had saved her money and tried to secure a loan to rebuild the home, but because she had always paid off her financial obligations with cash, she had no established credit. Four different lending institutions turned down her loan application.
“In the wake of the housing crisis, credit has been extremely difficult to obtain and is likely to remain so for some time,” said Denise Carter, Melbourne’s Housing & Urban Improvement Division Manager.
Ms. McCray then applied for assistance through the City’s Housing Rehabilitation/Reconstruction Program. The funding for the program comes from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation State Housing SHIP Program, and was established to expand the production of and preserve affordable housing for very low, low and moderate income families. Funding for this program was established by the passage of the 1992 William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act.
Maximum assistance the City offers through this program is $75,000. The funds can be used to offset costs for demolition, construction and temporary relocation. Ms. McCray had more than $4,600 of her own savings to put toward the project, but it wasn’t enough. City staff reached out to the Fair Housing Continuum, who contributed the $30,000 needed to complete the project. Last month, Ms. McCray and her children moved in to their structurally sound and safe new home.
The City and the Fair Housing Continuum have partnered on a few projects that help to improve and stabilize neighborhoods by providing affordable housing that enhances the quality of neighborhoods for low-income homeowners. Since the SHIP program’s inception, the City of Melbourne has completed 198 homes.
In addition to helping homeowners repair and rebuild their homes, the Housing & Urban Improvement Division also works on projects to improve drainage, pave roads, demolish substandard properties and improve neighborhood parks.
“We work one house at a time, one block at a time, to transform neighborhoods in decline,” Carter said. “It takes time because there is not a lot of grant funding available, but by phasing improvements we are able to bring about change and transform neighborhoods.”
For more information about how the City helps homeowners improve their neighborhoods, contact the Housing & Urban Improvement Division at (321) 674-5734.