Program aims to get homeowners invested in neighborhoods

MEMPHIS, Tenn. --  If the walls inside a house on Riney Street could tell a story, it’d be one about a comeback.

“It was condemned," said CDC Executive Director Steve Lockwood. "It was empty for nine years."

The house now stands renovated and on the market thanks to funding from the Frayser CDC.

“This is what really makes us proud," said Lockwood. "This is what's really good for the neighborhood is to salvage these kinds of houses.”

They're houses the city and neighborhood groups are not only trying to improve, but also fill.

“The more stable our neighborhoods become, the more our tax base grows," said Mayor Jim Strickland.

The city launched a program last year giving families access to up to $10,000 for a new home in 14 zip codes.

On Monday, the Tennessee Housing Developing Agency announced another one. People can apply for a $15,000 interest-free loan to buy a house in a number of zip codes.

If the homeowner can make it to living six years in the house, then they won't have to pay for 20 percent of the loan and if they make it to ten years in the house, the whole $15,000 will be forgiven.

The goal is to get people invested in these neighborhoods -- hopefully making some of the blight and devastation disappear.

“You see more eyes on the streets, people who are taking care of blight or notifying the proper authorities when challenges are happening," said Memphis Housing and Community Development Director Paul Young.

They expect it to help with everything from crime to education as kids will be less likely to move and switch schools.

“When you get someone who has bought a home, they care about that home. They care that their neighbors take care of their homes. It matters more to them that the schools are good, the streets are clean, the parks are safe," said THDA Executive Director Ralph Perrey.

The loan will be structured as a second-mortgage for people in the THD Great Choice Home Loan program and is designed for first-time home buyers.

People who qualify for both THDA’s new $15,000 program and the city’s assistance programs can apply for both and get both simultaneously.

Here are the zip codes that are part of the program: 38012, 38109, 38128, 38016, 38111, 38133, 38018, 38115, 38134, 38053, 38116, 38135, 38063, 38122, 38141, 38105, 38125, 38301, 38107, 38127, 38305

For more information, go to THDA.org.