In 2005, Ogden City took on a renewal project like no other. In fact, it was like trading a bad house for a good one, and placing owners where tenants once were. In a neighborhood that sported one of the highest crime rates in 2003, the Trolley District, also known as the Ogden Central Bench Historic District, transition was sorely needed. The program has an official title, the Asset Control Area program, with a HUD-instrumented acronym of ACA to go along with it. So, in an effort to sexy up the name, Home Sweet Ogden came to be, along with a logo to designate the houses from others on the market.
In short, HUD is still swimming in FHA foreclosures, and in areas where the demographics suggest low incomes, they have determined that the City is the ideal ‘buyer’ for these distressed foreclosures. After they become HUD property, the houses are appraised, then sold to Ogden City for half of their appraised value. Believe me when I tell you that some are not worth the half that the City gets, and in fact, over the last 6 years, nearly 6 have been torn down, because the condition was so deplorable, no rehabilitation was possible. Remember – people LIVED in these homes!
Contractors hired by the City conduct the rehab, after coming up with a reasonable scope of work that addresses the major concerns in the house. These may be roofs, electrical, plumbing, kitchens, egress windows – and always flooring and carpet. If the home has incredible charm, care is taken to preserve the historic elements, as their appeal is now seen as desirable. Some of the cutest bungalows, victorians and cottages have come through the program, redone for an excited homeowner.
The program has had great success, mandating home ownership for 5 years through the use of the Own in Ogden program, that supplies a loan for down payment or closing
costs. One restriction that applies is the income limit of the buyer, which must be at 80% of Average Median Income for the area. A HUD magic number, dependent on household size, this restraint seems to be rather easy for buyers to meet in Utah, however, has also been the biggest complaint from potential buyers, as pressure for historic homes in the Trolley District has risen over the past four years.
The good news is that the program has worked as intended. In the nearly 65 houses done since July 2005, only 2 have foreclosed, both due to job loss in 2008-2009. Around 5-8 have been re-sold to the next wave of homeowners, and original owners remain in the rest. It is these owners that we salute, the urban pioneers of Ogden today, living in the central city once regarded as ‘scary’. Ogden has been changing constantly over the past 12 years, emerging from a landscape with willy-nilly urban planning and high crime, to one of consistency and character, community and cooperation.
For more information about the program, just drop me an email or check out Ogden City’s website at HomeSweetOgden.