Housing in Downtown Neighborhood

Midland Reporter-Telegram - June 17, 2003

PROGRAM PROVIDES HOUSING IN DOWNTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD

by Nora Frost

Just like new parents would document the progress of their newborn, first-time homeowners Kathy and Robert Moreno have a scrapbook documenting the construction of their new three moreno1bedroom, two bath house in the 500 block of North Fort Worth Street.

"It's ours," said a smiling Ms. Moreno. "That's the best thing. It's ours."

Shortly before the 2003 New Year began, the Morenos signed the last of their paperwork and hosted a house warming party. "We love having people over," Ms. Moreno said. "That's what I love. We have extra room for company."

Before purchasing the house, the couple and their two daughters, who are studying at the University of North Texas, spent 10 years in a rented duplex. Now, not only do they have a view of Midland's skyline from their living room, but also a virtually maintenance-free house.

"It's great, especially because it's new. We don't have to worry about it," Moreno said. The Morenos were the first homeowners to take part in the Midland Community Development Corporation, which is looking to provide affordable housing near downtown from a block of land donated by the City of Midland.

"Basically, we're taking a piece of property that had $0 value to $750,000," said David Diaz, executive director of Midland Community Development Corporation. By the end of the year, the corporation is hoping to have all 12 houses purchased and built. So far they have seven properties claimed.

MCDC is an organization that stemmed from Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and started in January 2000 as an effort to revitalize downtown.

Some requirements applicants must meet are they have to be a City of Midland resident for more than 30 days, be a first-time home buyer, put a down payment of at least $3,000, complete the home buyer training course, have satisfied prior government debts or tax obligations and attend a pre-purchase workshop. The applicant must also meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development income guidelines. For a family of four, the maximum income is $36,700. Applicants don't have to apply for just the new houses squared off by North Dallas Street, North Fort Worth Street, Tennessee Avenue and Michigan Avenue.

Diaz said applicants can also request for housing in "targeted areas" as outlined in the Community Development Block Grant. These areas are generally on the east and southeast side of Midland. "The project has been very successful to date," Diaz said. "We have been in construction mode for less than nine months and we have had four families move in."

For more information about the program, call Midland Community Development Corporation at 682-2520.