The affordable housing market is not dead

212 and 218 Concord Ave., Rockford: Includes three bedrooms, master bedroom, cathedral ceilings and first-floor laundry. Photo provided

By Elizabeth Cook
Free-lance Writer

For more than 15 years, Comprehensive Community Solutions, Inc., (CCS) and its program for disadvantaged young people, YouthBuild, has built or renovated more than 100 houses in the Rockford area. The total value of those homes is $7,015,016. Of those 100 homes, 66 are still occupied by the original owner.

One of the programs involved with the reconstruction process is YouthBuild. Students with the YouthBuild program help construct and rehabilitate two-thirds of CCS’s houses. These projects have ranged to approximately 86 single-family home ownership and 20 multi-family rentals. Whom are these homes being built for? CCS and the City of Rockford have teamed up to provide remodeled and newly-reconstructed homes specifically for families with low income.

The City of Rockford provides financial assistance in the form of a five-year forgivable mortgage loan for 6 percent of the purchase price. Once the eligibility requirements are fulfilled, the process is rather simple to attain a new and affordable home.

To apply for this program, contact Family Credit Management at 815-484-1600 or Rockford Area Affordable Housing Coalition at 815-962-2011.

2028 Elm St., Rockford: Includes two bedrooms and remodeled kitchen. Photo provided

Kerry Knodle, executive director at CCS, said, “People react to what they think is going on.” Too many families believe they cannot afford to buy a house. The housing market in Rockford has seen better days, but it is still possible to own a new home on a low income.

CCS has a 10-unit family apartment building and six, single-family homes for sale. Selling these units improves the community by providing safe, new homes for families, and these sales also fund YouthBuild’s green training programs where students embrace clean and efficient green building techniques that save energy and lower utility costs. The programs are being funded through grants, donations and earned income. For example, a home that is being built for $140,000 but sells for $85,000 is not going to make any profit.The grants and donations fill this gap.

CCS also has its first LEED-certified home. LEED, As their Web site states: “LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system,  providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.”

2305 School St., Rockford: 10-unit brick apartment building. Includes laundry facilities and parking. Photo provided

The LEED-certified house is being built at 913 N. Rockton Ave., with funds from the City of Rockford HOME funds, and a construction loan from Neighborhood Housing Services of Freeport, Ill. The home will be energy efficient in all areas, beginning with increased insulation and the design of the HVAC system and will be sold to a low- to moderate-income buyer.

CCS’s mission is to bring about fundamental transformation of neighborhoods, communities and the circumstances of those who live there.

If you would like to help with this mission, you may join Friends of YouthBuild and become a Charter Founding Member. For more information, call Deb York or Kerry Knodle at (815) 963-6236.

From the July 21-27, 2010 issue

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