3 On Your Side tracks federal funding aimed at helping foreclosures

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Before By Natalie Rivers Before By Natalie Rivers

PHOENIX - The City of Phoenix has received $115 million since its Neighborhood Stabilization Program began in 2008.

The latest round of federal money came earlier this month when $16 million was given to the city for another new housing program.

The "First Look" program gives the city first dibs on homes that haven't yet hit the market.

The city can then fix the homes up, rent them, sell them and in some cases, demolish them.

But with this list of banks financially backing the program, the same banks many believe landed us in this mortgage mess in the first place, 3 on your side wanted to know what’s being done to ensure people are buying home they can actually afford.

“They're going to do a budget,” Kate Kreitor said. “We're going to help them understand they're buying power before they look at the homes.”

In addition to creating a budget, program director Kate Kreitor tells us home buyers have to attend a home ownership class.

The loan will be 30-years fixed.

Plus, people get a 3-year home warranty on energy efficient appliances, and $15,000 for down payment and closing cost assistance.

“So, they're not going to get sucked into homes that they can't really afford,” Kreitor said.

When 3 On Your Side first questioned the city of Phoenix about the effectiveness of this program in May, a spokesperson told us it had only helped 83 people get into homes.

“It did take a while for the program up and running really, again, the federal government wants to make sure that the money is all used within their guidelines,” city spokesperson Michael Hammet said.

But four months later, we're told that number has increased to 172.

With 15,000 foreclosures in Phoenix last year, Kreitor says no one should expect the Neighborhood Stabilization Program to completely turn around the foreclosure problem, but she says it will bring stronger property values and restore confidence in some of the hardest hit areas of the city.

“We're looking at the hardest hit, the areas that have the most foreclosures,” she said. “Then, we're trying to buy them in areas where we can have some impact by buying a number in an area where we can find a tipping point of neighborhood confidence.”

The city will make about a dozen rehabilitated homes up for sale on the city's website next week.

The average price of the homes the city purchases is about $78,000 and another $45,000 worth of work is put into them to fix them up.

To qualify, a family of four can earn up to $70,000.

The city expects the NSP to continue for at least another year and a half.