The City of Columbus has been awarded $1.5 million to buy, rehab and resell homes damaged by last summer’s historic flooding. But the plan’s success depends on more than just the city having money.
All 15 homes just south of the city’s airport have been abandoned. Some are owned by banks, some by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Others are privately owned.
None of the owners have given any indication they’ll sell to the city because officials haven’t asked yet.
Since the $1.5 million dollars can’t cover the costs of buying all the 15 homes and fixing them, Community Development Director Judy Jackson says the city came up with a strategy.
“We won’t do all of the 15 homes at one time. We may do three homes, rehab, sell those. That money then would then be put back in the same fund to do another three, four, five, whatever we can do,” she said.
Originally, the city asked for $1.9 million. Jackson admits that number was based on a very loose estimate.
Well, at this point we’ve only seen the exterior of the homes. We haven’t purchased any of the homes, so we haven’t been inside the homes yet. We’ll have to of course go inside and inspect them and see what the houses need,” she said.
“We plan to , yes, to make them look nice.”
Since the condition of the homes is not known, Jackson says the extent necessary rehab is unclear, including how much each project will cost.
In order to better the chances of convincing owners to sell, Jackson says they city will solicit two estimates on each home to come up with an offer that’s fair to both the owners and the city.
She says despite the housing market, the homes will eventually be offered at prices low-income families can afford.
The Planning Department is also still waiting to hear if it will receive a grant allowing the city to buy more than 80 homes on the southeast side, tear them down and create green space. City officials have repeatedly said the area should never have been zoned residential.
As for the homes south of the airport that will be rehabbed, Jackson says she’s unsure if anything’s been done to prevent future flooding in the area.