Mohave County’s Neighbor Stabilization Program (NSP) was put into place almost five years ago. The NSP, originally funded through federal stimulus money from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), was awarded to Mohave County’s Community Services Department to help acquire, rehabilitate and resale foreclosed or abandoned /vacant housing units and also to help county residents become homeowners. “I have been in support of this program because it is cleaning up some dilapidated homes in neighborhoods throughout the county. By cleaning up these homes, the home values for everyone are going up. Instead of living next to an eye sore, folks are seeing homes that probably never would have been purchased and turned around become livable again,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. “Funded entirely with grant money, the county has been able to rehabilitate 20 homes and has put 15 families into mortgages,” Johnson continued.
NSP homes are offered for sale to low, middle and moderate income families who have completed the HUD approved Home Buyer Education Course. The program also came with a provision of down payment and closing cost assistance and direct loans for households with incomes 50% or less of the County median income. “This program is a win-win for potential homebuyers and the community,” Johnson stated. According to Community Services Director Susie Parel-Duranceau, the NSP targeted homes that would never have been bought in the condition they were in. “The NSP had a rehab team that went in and did extensive rehabilitation on these homes,” Duranceau stated. “Sometimes they would have to do complete replacement of roofs, air conditioning, and heating units. Other homes would have completely renovated kitchens and/or bathrooms,” Duranceau continued. Under the program, all NSP homes must have a kitchen and be ‘move in ready.’
According to Supervisor Johnson, the program has helped not just homeowners but the overall economy of Mohave County. “This program hired local contractors and worked with local real estate agents providing much needed jobs to our citizens,” Johnson stated. “With fewer foreclosed homes in the neighborhood there is a better chance the other home values in these areas will slowly go up as well,” Johnson explained.
The last NSP home was just recently sold in the Bullhead City area. While the initial program has ended, Community Services Director Duranceau hopes in time to be able to offer more homes for county residents. “Of the 20 homes sold, 5 of them were sold on the open market which means the County does not carry the mortgage on them,” Duranceau stated. “The money from these sales went directly back into the program to rehabilitate and purchase more foreclosed homes. For the 15 homeowners who are paying the county a monthly mortgage payment, we will take those payments and save them up so we can eventually buy more homes for the program,” Duranceau continued.
At the recent Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting, County Supervisors voted to add a Forbearance Policy to NSP mortgages. The Forbearance Policy will allow Mohave County Community Services staff to develop specific objectives for families addressing difficult times such as loss of job, accident or illness. “The policy is not intended to change any provisions of the mortgage loans, including the payments. It provides time for the homeowners to catch up with the loan payments, however, interest for late payments is charged,” Duranceau explained.
Some concern regarding the policy was addressed by the Supervisors. Supervisor Johnson requested that the policy include a provision allowing the county to inspect the property to ensure it is being properly cared for. “If we are going to allow this we at least to need ensure that during this time the homeowners are still maintain the property. Should it go into foreclosure again it would become our property and we would have to resell it,” Johnson stated. According to Duranceau, the grant program does not allow a home that was rehabilitated once to be rehabilitated again. Along with this provision, the County Supervisors also attached a 12 month stipulation to it.