Vacants to Value Program Puts Halt on New Applications

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City housing department has stopped taking applications for home buyers incentive program

Less than two months into fiscal 2017, a Baltimore city housing program that helps potential buyers purchase vacant city-owned properties has reached its funding limit for the year and has stopped taking applications.

“As of August 5, 2016, the City of Baltimore’s Office of Homeownership has received the maximum number of applications for FY17 for the Vacants to Value Booster Program ($10,000 incentive) for homebuyers,” states a message posted on Facebook by the housing department.

“At this time, the incentive has been exhausted, and we are not accepting any additional applications,” the statement continued. “We will take names and contact information for buyers should any additional funds become available over the next ten months.”

The city’s 2017 fiscal year began on July 1. The notice means that prospective buyers who were hoping for assistance from the Vacants to Value Booster Program must wait until July 1, 2017 for another round of funding. The Vacants to Value program itself is still in operation and actively marketing vacant city-owned properties.

The decision to stop accepting applications for the Booster Program is distressing news to people such as Nicholas Thornton, who has his eye on a property he wants to buy.

“The funds are already exhausted and the Fiscal Year just started in July!” he said in a letter to Baltimore Fishbowl. “This is very troubling news for us as we’re currently under contract with a developer to rehab a home in Greenmount West that would have been eligible for the $10,000 grant.  We were relying on that grant to assist with our down payment and closing costs and this could potentially put our home purchase in jeopardy.

“I am hoping that the city will do the right thing and make more funds available for this extremely important program in the very near future (especially since the FY just started in July!).  I am sure that my family is not the only one affected by this shortfall in program funding and if the city is serious about its commitment to revitalization, this should be made a priority.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has pointed to the Vacants to Value rehab program as one of the successes of her tenure as mayor.

A representative for the mayor’s office did not respond to requests for information about the city’s announcement.

In its notice about not taking any more Booster Program applications for Fiscal 2017, the city housing department says more information is available from Michael Guye, the department’s director of homeownership, at 410-396-3124 or [email protected]

Guye referred questions to a spokesman for the housing department, Tania Baker, who said she would look into the matter.

Ed Gunts

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