Wile away the hours in a traffic jam on Interstate 95 or ride the crowded commuter rail lines and you're sure to think � and not very fondly � of a beast that never sleeps � the rapid growth of the Washington metropolitan area. It never seems to stop.
And as it grows relentlessly northward, southward, eastward, westward and every point in between, affordable housing for those who live, work and raise a family in the area becomes an ever scarcer commodity.
Interior of one of 25 homes being acquired and renovated by Central Virginia Housing Coalition in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Photo courtesy of the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star.
According to the Virginia Association of REALTORS, in just the last four years the average price of a home has risen almost 70 percent to more than $514,000 in February 2006. No wonder that two, even three-hour commutes one-way are increasingly common for those who've found a job in the Nation's capital but can only manage rent or mortgage payments in communities 100 miles away.
The Central Virginia Housing Coalition, a non-profit based in Fredericksburg is stepping forward to battle the beast. Thanks to the sale last fall of some 17.5 acres of land it owned, the Coalition has purchased and is now rehabilitating some 25 older homes in the city's Mayfair neighborhood. At least 15 will be offered for sale and the remaining 10 may not be far behind.
Exterior of one of 25 homes being acquired and renovated by Central Virginia Housing Coalition in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Photo courtesy of the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star.
"I don't know of any other area in the city that has something to compare to what we have in Mayfair," Coalition executive director Gary Parker recently told the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star.
The Coalition will be able to offer below-market financing to homebuyers because of a $1.3 million SPARC allocation from the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the state's housing finance agency. In addition, the City of Fredericksburg, an entitlement community, will provide CDBG funds for down payment assistance. According to the Census, the City says, more than half of its residents have incomes at or below 80 percent of median and would qualify for such assistance.
Expected to sell at about half the average home sales price in the Fredericksburg and one third the price in the Washington region, potential buyers already are lining up. The Coalition closed on its first sale last week and three more are pending, reports the Free Lance Star.
No question, says Parker, that the Coalition's Mayfair project "it's going to create homeownership where people who were unable to own a home before are able to own a home in the city of Fredericksburg,"