Is federal money being wasted, or is it a good investment?
Four homes in the South Linden area have either been rehabilitated or built from the ground up–some say it is to improve the area.
Some cost nearly $300,000 to build, and are being sold now for less than $100,000.
In stark contrast are the homes around them, many which sell for $20-$50,000.
So, why is there such a difference?
The new and rehabbed houses are bright, shiny, and energy efficient.
They are also expensive.
“This house costs $292,000 to build and some change and it’s a nice house, but my question is why do you throw good money after bad?” asked Kujenga Ashe’, a Linden Area Minister.
To fix the homes in a poor area of Columbus cost more than $1 million.
They were sold for about a third of that.
The renovations were paid for with taxpayer money.
“I just don’t know where the money went to, who got the contracts and why it costs so much to build,” Ashe’ said.
Today, Columbus housing administrator Rita Parise told NBC4 that when an existing home is rehabilitated or a new home is constructed, the work must be done to the construction standards of the City (AWARE).
These costs are incurred even if the final product does not have a market value in accordance with the fair market value in the area. This is the development gap of doing work in a neighborhood with low values and high vacancy.
Some part of the low market value in the neighborhood is attributable to the number of vacant, abandoned and dilapidated homes in the area. If homes are only repaired to that standard, it will not improve the market or provide quality housing for low and moderate-income households.
“I think investing in developing these houses was a good decision,” Parise said.
donna Hicho, director of the Linden Area Development Corporation, said the whole neighborhood is being redeveloped–not just the houses.
“We had to do lead and asbestos abatement before we could even begin a project for a couple of the houses,” she said. “Just that piece alone ran between $10-$13,000. It included acquisition costs, it included the architectural drawings, it included the actual building of the house, it included insurance on a vacant house.
“If you just look at the numbers at first it may look like it may not be a good investment, but you have to look at the bigger picture. We are not just redeveloping the houses, we’re redeveloping the neighborhood.”
Ashe’ needs a little more convincing.
“For $290,0000…give me a break.”