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Housing program a success in Wellington Heights neighborhood

Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 8:53 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Leaders with the non-profit Four Oaks say their Homeownership Incubator Program has been a big improvement for the Wellington Heights neighborhood on Cedar Rapids’ Southeast Side. It’s a rent to own program that’s been around since 2013.

Jerry Hunt is making his Wellington Heights House his home. He and his husband have been decorating it to their liking. He bought it after completing the program this year, never thinking he’d become a homeowner.

“It was my credit history and stuff like that,” he said. “I did a lot of mistakes in my younger times.”

It’s a multi-year process. People paying rent on time will get money in an escrow account that can go to a down payment on the home. They can get it once their credit is approved.

“When we first moved in, you know we were a little nervous, we were” he said. “But you know the neighborhood is not what everybody is thinking and it’s just amazing. We all stick together.”

Four Oaks has flipped more than 100 homes in Wellington Heights. They are doing their next phase of buying and rehabbing 3 homes per year for the next 5 years to sell. Covid-19 has delayed the work, and they fear the derecho may drive up the cost of materials.

“Our contractors that we normally use are now busy doing other stuff, doing other stuff for us,” said Kim Eiler with the Affordable Housing Network. “We have to line up new contractors. When they’re busy and in demand, they can kind of charge what they want to charge.”

Even if they have to look for more grants to pay for cost, the program will continue. “The more we get people involved in that level,” she said. “The stronger the neighborhood will continue to be.”

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