City of Reno's Housing Rehab Hits Milestone - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

City of Reno's Housing Rehab Hits Milestone

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John Potter

Channel 2 News

The City of Reno has been turning around some neighborhoods that need help. As council member Jessica Sferrazza told us, "Nobody wants to live next to a home that's foreclosed upon and vacant. So we're truly making a tremendous effort into the neighborhoods."

What the city's been doing is this: buying vacant, foreclosed homes that drag nearby home prices down, then fixing them up to sell or rent, which in turn raises the value of the neighborhood. They've done this to many houses already. One on Micmac Court in Sun Valley is about to be #100. Like most, it has a story to tell, and had been vacant for a long time.

The city's program starts as a sad process. The housing authority's Terry Hoffman has seen many leftover signs of life that date back to happier times: "It is sad when you see a house that in the back they poured some concrete, and they have the kid's handprints with some dates. Or you go into a bedroom and it's fixed up obviously for a little girl."

Terry checks the MLS listings every morning, looking for more homes to save. Who pays for it all? Federal stimulus money: Reno's share is $21 million. But millions won't fix billions in problems. Banks have over 1,000 houses they took back in Reno. "We have over 4,000 sitting out there with a notice of default." Is the program just a drop in the bucket? In Jessica Sferrazza's mind, "No, because this is only the first 100."

Unfortunately, Reno now gets around 500 foreclosure filings a month. Notices of default are already up over August. Reno Housing Authority director David Morton has his work cut out for him. Outside house #100, he told us, "In this case you've got 3 houses on this street that are in bad shape. The one we already own and are about to be fixing up. The one across the street we have a sales contract on, we'll be working on that very soon…I do believe we've done some good things for these communities, and we'll continue to do it."

He plans to buy another 100 homes families can move into. And the house on Micmac Court in Sun Valley may get new cement handprints in the backyard...to go along with its abandoned horseshoe game.

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