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Lee County to receive $18M in federal foreclosure aid; Separate $7 million assigned to Cape

By Staff | Oct 14, 2008

Lee County will receive more than $18 million as part of federal foreclosure aid for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes.

The funding comes as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which will bring a total of $541 million to the counties and cities throughout Florida hardest hit by foreclosures.

The program has allocated a total of $3.92 billion to all states hit particularly hard by foreclosures.

Lee County Human Services is currently putting a consolidated plan for the money into place. The plan is due to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development by Dec. 1.

Human Services Deputy Director Ann Arnall anticipates having the money in place sometime in January.

“Whoever is getting the money has to have a plan,” Arnall said. “When it gets to them (HUD), they have a 45-day time frame to approve or ask for more info.”

The money will help to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed homes, then make the homes available to low to moderate income home buyers.

Some of the homes also could potentially be used as transitional housing for victims of domestic violence or past drug abuse, though Arnall said the county would not pay to operate the homes, merely donate them to various organizations like Southwest Florida Addiction Services.

According to Arnall, the money must specifically be used for properties that have already been foreclosed on and empty for 90 days. Homes in the process of foreclosure will not be eligible.

“The funds are not to be used for intervention,” Arnall said.

So far, it looks as if Cape Coral will receive a separate $7 million, and Fort Myers will receive $2.2 million. The county’s $18 million will be spread around unincorporated Lee, as well as Bonita Springs, Estero and Fort Myers Beach.

Though the city of Cape Coral offices were closed Monday due to Columbus Day and city officials were unavailable for comment on their individual plan for the funds, Arnall said she thinks the $7 million is a “pretty good chunk” for the community.

“It’s a whole formula they (HUD) come up with, and if you look at what they allocated nationally, the Cape is in a higher range,” she said.

The $18,243,867.46 Lee County will receive is roughly a middle-of-the-road sum, compared to other counties around Florida.

Miami-Dade County is the biggest recipient with more than $62 million in federal aid, and Lake County smallest recipient with just more than $3 million.

Arnall anticipates Human Services will be bombarded with requests for aid once the money becomes available. She warned that the county will give priority to areas with the highest numbers of foreclosures and sub-prime mortgages, and cited Lehigh as an area it would probably focus on.

“We do need to give priority to where we’ll be buying,” she said. “There are a lot of concentrated areas where you could have a pretty significant impact.”

For more information on the available funding, visit: www.hud.gov, or call the city of Cape Coral at 574-0401 or Lee County Human Services at 533-7900.