Push to fill foreclosed homes in Petersburg

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - It's a sight seen in a number of Petersburg neighborhoods: vacant, abandoned houses. Now, a push by a non-profit to eliminate empty homes in the city -- under a federal program.

"It's an effort to stabilize neighborhoods hit by foreclosure," said Mike Watts, Executive Director of Pathways.

"Pathways", a non-profit organization, received a $600,000 federal grant to buy, rehab and sell foreclosed homes at a reduced rate in Petersburg.

"This program is designed to make these foreclosed houses available to persons of modest income. These are well below the assessed value - well below the appraised value," Watts said.

Pathways has purchased 5 homes in the city-- including one in the Walnut Hill neighborhood. "These exterior walls were all opened up and insulation was put in to provide a tighter air seal," Watts showed us.

Under the program certain upgrades must be made to the houses.

"Upgraded cabinets and we've been able to supply these houses with energy star appliances," he said.

Watts says there are far too many vacant houses in Petersburg -- some 16% of all homes in the city.

"The health of a neighborhood can be closely linked to the number of homeowners in the neighborhood," said Watts.

Today, the non-profit held a "walk-in" to talk about the neighborhood stabilization program. Watts says, once the houses are sold the process will start again.

"From the sell of these houses the money goes back into the bucket to purchase another house," he said.

For more information on the program contact Pathways at 862-1104.

Pathways began purchasing and fixing up the foreclosed homes last year. The non-profit recently sold its first house under the program.

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