CEDAR RAPIDS - Community Housing Initiatives Inc. (CHI) - based in Spencer - and the Affordable Housing Network Inc., were joined Sept. 13 by representatives from Midwest Housing Equity Group, Skogman Homes and others to celebrate the grand opening of Sugar Creek Bend, a single-family housing program near Ellis Golf Course in Cedar Rapids. The 20 affordable homes are the first-of-its-kind within the city limits and are designed to be a "homeownership incubator," thus preparing renters to become homeowners.
"Sugar Creek Bend is Community Housing Initiatives Inc.'s first low-income housing tax credit project that is solely targeted to creating homeownership opportunities for renters," said Doug LaBounty, president of CHI. "It is our hope that the 20 homes that make up Sugar Creek Bend can create 50 to 60 new homeowners over 15 years."
Located within the new 80-plus home development on Zika Avenue next to Ellis Golf Course, the 20 three-bedroom homes are approximately 1,400 square feet and feature Energy Star appliances, a garage, unfinished basement and computer for personal use.
Those who qualify for the program must meet household income guidelines and are required to participate in a Homeownership Program that is offered by a HUD certified Housing Counseling Agency. Renters pay $625 per month, including $100 of the total being put in an escrow account to buy a future house. The Homeownership Program will include improving credit scores, debt management, creating a plan to save for a down payment and closing costs, and more.
Additionally, renters must clean and maintain the home and property, which includes snow removal, lawn care, computer maintenance, minor repairs to the home and comply with all other applicable rules and regulations.
"Sugar Creek Bend is a great opportunity to live in a spectacular new home," Joe Lock, executive director of the Affordable Housing Network Inc., said. "The homeownership program is unique because renters have the opportunity to learn all the aspects of what it takes to make a house a home."