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Local News

December 21, 2013

City owed $90K in back home loans

Three properties in the city’s first-time homeownership loan program have been abandoned, Oneonta officials said, and two other property owners haven’t responded to requests for payments.

The five property owners owe the city more than $90,000, plus interest, stemming from loans made through First-Time Homeownership, a federally funded program, according to a report recently discussed at a Common Council committee meeting.

The city received a total of $1,185,170 in federal Housing and Urban Development funding in three installments since 1996, and turned it into loans for more than 60 low- to moderate-income homeowners. Loan payments are deposited in the city’s “program income account,” which recirculates funds for various projects, and isn’t part of the city’s general operating fund, according to Jeff House, city housing specialist and acting director of community development.

Meg Hungerford, the city director of finance, said the loan repayments fund the city’s community development budget, which has been set by the Common Council at $107,500 for next year. Of that amount, $67,000 is projected to come from loan repayments, including first-time homeownership payments, she said, and about another $40,000 is from previously collected payments.

The largest item in the community development budget is $70,000 for an annual agreement with Otsego County for downtown Oneonta business retention and expansion services, Hungerford said. The budget also would cover expenses stemming from requesting or providing other loans or grants, she said.

House said the first-time homeownership loans carried an automatic three-year deferral of repayments to the city. But all of those HUD deferrals have expired, he said, and the city has approved many deferrals in recent years.

In recent years, the city has been studying its housing stock, which includes student rentals, and identifying needs and and ways to encourage improvements, development, affordability and ownership.

“We’re trying to fill homes with families,” Chip Holmes, Eighth Ward member of the Common Council, said Tuesday.

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