By SARAH BRADBURY
A Wytheville based organization, Helping Overcome Poverty’s Existence (HOPE), recently acquired over 36 acres of undeveloped property in Fort Chiswell, approximately three miles south of Interstates 77 and 81.
Andy Kegley, executive director of HOPE, says his organization plans to develop the 23 parcels of land, planned to be called Long Meadows, in hopes of providing affordable homeownership to individuals who qualify.
The program’s focus is on helping lower income families to achieve their dreams of owning a home.
In order to qualify for the 33-year mortgage, applicants must have a credit score of 640 or higher, a maximum income not to exceed 80 percent of the area’s median income, and participate in required financial counseling. Monthly mortgage amounts are expected not to exceed 30 percent of the applicant’s income.
HOPE also requires buyers to invest a minimum of 200 “sweat equity” hours, which can include keeping the lot clean during construction, landscaping, or another form of specialized labor.
HOPE has already seen success in the Deerfield community of Wytheville, where they supplied nearly 30 families with affordable home ownership opportunities.
“Our ability to work with a first time homebuyer has remained the same,” said Kegley, “whereas credit largely dried up with traditional lenders in recent years.” He also said that homeownership loans require no down payment and that interest rates are as low as one percent.
Wythe County officials agreed to run waterlines to the community to held speed up the process. “County taxpayers stand to benefit greatly from the development of this new community, as the developed land will dramatically increase the real estate values associated with the properties,” said Jeremy T.K. Farley, public information officer for Wythe County.
Once the neighborhood has been entirely developed, Wythe County projects Long Meadows will provide over $10,000 in additional real estate tax revenue each year.