• Housing advocates urging rehab projects

    By: Jim Strickland


    ATLANTA - Atlanta housing advocates are urging buyers struggling with a limited selection of new homes to consider a rehab project instead.

    The lure of guaranteed loans and free down payment money is part of the effort.

    Bride-to-be Lauren Bowling, 26, told Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland she took advantage of using a federally guaranteed mortgage and rehab loan combo called a 203(k) to turn a foreclosure into her first home.

    "Then you can get a house that's everything you want right off the bat. We call it our starter home but really it's our dream home," Bowling said.

    Bowling said she borrowed $50,000 in purchase money and $55,000 in rehabilitation funds. The loans came at a single closing for a federal guarantee.

    Advocates have set a high goal: Write 50 percent more loans than the current rate.

    "Seven thousand five hundred loans over the next five years. Doing that will help to stabilize neighborhoods, to help get some vacant homes off the market and give people a home they want to live in," said Invest Atlanta's Frank George.

    Bowling also received $15,000 free down payment money funded by Wells Fargo.

    The bank has been trying for more than a year to give away $6 million in down payment assistance. There is more than $2 million left.

    An event in a foreclosure-challenged Atlanta neighborhood on Lexington Avenue is designed to highlight the program Saturday.

    "Individuals can actually see tangible proof of the program and how it works," George said.

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