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Bang for a buck

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The City of Brazil recently closed on the purchase of homes at 704 N. Forest Ave. (top) and 104 N. Alabama St., through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Dollar Homes initiative. The city will make repairs to bring the homes into compliance with the building and fire codes before selling them to potential homebuyers. [Order this photo]
City purchases two homes through HUD initiative

The City of Brazil is expanding its beautification efforts.

Recently, the City of Brazil closed on the purchase of two area homes through the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Dollar Homes initiative.

"After homes are acquired by the Federal Housing Authority (which is part of HUD) following foreclosure, they are put on the market and if they are not sold within six months, they are offered to local governments at the nominal cost of $1," Brazil Planning Administrator Stacy Gibbens said about the purchase of residences at 704 N. Forest Ave. and 104 N. Alabama St. "The Brazil Housing Authority let us know about the program because they were not interested in having any additional homes at this time."

Gibbens added the homes are only made available to local governments for a 10-day period, so the city had to move quickly on them.

"This can be very beneficial to both the city and the county because it allows us to expand our residential beautification efforts alongside the Neighborhood Stabilization Program we are also currently working with," she said. "By being able to sell the homes to responsible individuals or families, we can get the properties back on the tax roll."

She explained the money to purchase each of the homes was taken out of the delinquent taxes, which were prorated.

However, the city still has work to do on the homes before selling them.

"We are using the Unsafe Building Fund to pay the delinquent taxes and make some repairs," Gibbens said. "The repairs made by the city will be to bring them into compliance with the building and fire codes."

Brazil Deputy Clerk-Treasurer Raymond Staub -- who assisted Brazil City Firefighter/Building Inspector Troy McQueen in reviewing code violations -- said there are some minor problems which need to be fixed.

"The home on Forest Avenue has sump pump issues and some termite damage, while the one on Alabama has a couple leaks, a furnace that is not working and mold in the garage, which is unattached," Staub said. "However, the houses themselves are still on level foundations, so they are very sellable fixer-upper homes."

Staub told The Brazil Times McQueen would have to make sure the homes are up to code before being sold to potential homeowners.

Gibbens said the city has been working with a HUD broker out of Chicago, the purchases were closed Jan. 4, and deeds have already been received.

"After the homes are brought up to code, we will have them appraised before putting them out to bid," she said. "The bid process will be similar to how homes are normally purchased, except the bids will be sealed."

She added houses included in the Dollar Homes initiative are typically sold to a low- to moderate-income buyer, and by participating in the program, the city will be able to continue residential rehabilitation in the city.

"It is also a good way to build up the Unsafe Building Fund because there is not much in it at this time and the entire amount a home sells for goes directly back to the fund," Gibbens said. "Not only will it allow us to purchase other homes in the program to rehabilitate, but also provide the funding necessary to demolish homes that can not be repaired, which will also improve the look of the city."

For questions about the HUD Dollar Homes initiative, or to express interest in purchasing one of the homes from the city in the future, contact the Brazil City Planning Office at 446-0050.

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Amazing, the mayor can't fix a road or a sidewalk in this town but they can houses now.

-- Posted by Schraderfan on Thu, Jan 14, 2010, at 11:29 PM

Sounds like a great investment, pay out a dollar, invest maybe 2-5 thousand and bring in 20,000 or more in profit.

As to the City of Brazil's problems with sidewalks and roads, we have had that for years. Why should the current mayor be able to solve problems overnight that were years in the making and that previous mayors could not or would not solve? While Mayor Bradshaw is a pretty-well tireless worker who cares greatly about the state that the roads and sidewalks she is not a magician or the Pavement Fairy who can say a magic word or two and fix everything. Some problems can only be solved with lots of money and a great deal of time. When she sees the money, you can bet you will see the paving crews. For the uninformed, would you repair streets and sidewalks at this juncture with the knowledge that the city is going to start the process of installing a new water system, a process that is going to require digging up streets and sidewalks to lay new pipes? All in good time and in the proper order.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 12:35 AM

Yes but they can up our water bills, take more city taxes out of our paychecks, rezone businesses, and buy up property all over town. Can they get my car aligned and buy new dust covers for my front tires? The roads in this city are downright dispicable and myself and many others i'm sure are SICK of it. Find the money and fix them. It is waaaaay overdue. Don't make promises during election time and then blow smoke later.

-- Posted by ugotitdude on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 8:16 AM

I try to drive around most of the potholes but I am thankful for some of them for slowing down some o the 'wanna be' race car drivers!

-- Posted by michael.galloway1 on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 9:16 AM

Thats what I'm talking about, where does money appear from like it was under a rock until the powers that be decide its the exact moment to dig it out and use it for things that should have been accomplished yesterday. They have Umbaugh in there doing what the clerk should be responsible for doing so what next, who prioritizes projects and allocates money for departments and how do they reach their conclusions, looks like a very disjointed process to me.

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 10:04 AM

It must really suck that some people in our community are never, never happy. City tries to bring in a little extra money so maybe some of the other things can get done without raising taxes, to me that is a GOOD THING! I would hate to be one of you freqent COMPLAINERS, you are just a group of very sadly unhappy people. Obviously you woke up today--that could be seen as a blessing, if you have a home...there's another. Try going to a store or by a school and look at a child's smiling face or hear them laugh. If that doesn't put a smile on your face or in your heart, then maybe waking up today wasn't a good thing........and you'd be better off not waking upi tomorrow!!!

-- Posted by soccermomwithanattitude on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 12:14 PM

I don't think that anyone is complaining,it's the truth, but I agree with money going to waste. We still have water problems ALL THE TIME. And the roads flat out suck! I bent a RIM on Pinckley Street. Not even a aftermarket rim, it was stock! There was a huge gash in my tire, and a bent rim!! That was a lot of money, and who paid for it?? I DID! SO, not only are we paying taxes for who knows what, but then we have to fix all of our cars after driving down the junk roads. So until the town gets fixed and money goes towards fixing roads or water, or whatever else is wrong, then yes, people deserve to complain!!!

-- Posted by tsl2010 on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 1:23 PM

Soccermom, thats a disgusting thing to say to someone with a complaint, thats the same as wishing someone dead, must be that you got mentioned somehow in the comments maybe you might want to remove that over reaction to a few questions, last time I looked tax paying citizens can question how things are done and also state their opinions, or has that changed ?

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 1:35 PM

soccermom if they didn't raise taxes then why is an extra $4.00 coming out of my check a week for City taxes? One week it's $7 and the next it's $11. It would nice to go by a store and drive by and see a child's smiling face but sadly I have to pay attention to the road so I don't lose my car in a crater. I work hard and pay enough taxes to complain. It's hard enough trying to make it today without the added car repair expenses. I mean really.....the roads in this city are ridiculous! I am truly blessed and thankful for the things I have but nicer roads would be a blessing for everyone..including you.

-- Posted by ugotitdude on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 2:05 PM

Funny, I drive Pinckley Street on a regular basis and I've not seen a pothole on it that would bend a rim at the speed limit. There are several that makes the ride uncomfortable and might affect alignment if you hit them regularly, but to bend a rim you would have to be running well above the speed limit or running on a flat tire at the speed limit.

As with doctors, if the city clerk produced a recommendation that we should do something, wouldn't you still want a second opinion? Even if the work was duplicated by an outside firm, obviously the clerk does not disagree with the conclusion. I'm not really sure that what Umbaugh is even duplicating the clerk's responsibilities or advising the administration and council as to what and how that company sees that things should be done. It doesn't really matter, as nothing gets done until there is a vote and a lot of other legal action in which the public has a say.

That said, everyone has the right to complain. That would include the right to complain about things that no one else sees as a problem. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease - if there is any grease available....LOL.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 3:27 PM

I was in town during the Thanksgiving holiday, and I have to agree, the roads a horrible.

-- Posted by riverman48 on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 3:44 PM

The roads have ALWAYS been bad. I'm just glad to see houses get fixed up. Everytime I come home I TRY to find a nice part of town and there isn't one.

-- Posted by sjl92 on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 4:05 PM

When my sister came into town for a visit after a week, I mistakenly sent her out to Cardonia and on to 1450 to get to 59 that day, she noticed the trailor with a couple of old hearses sitting ouside and she truly thought that was the funeral home for Brazil, she apologized but said it looked like the conditions most could afford and didn't mean as an insult, I said I'm not insulted you get immune to things after you live here awhile, even some people blame fast driving for the street conditions, like I said you become immune to how pathetic it really is.

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 4:40 PM

Leo L. Southworth (I'd bet he answers his phone that way), let me guess, you backed the mayor in the last election?

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 5:59 PM

I agree...our streets are terrible! Sometimes I think gravel roads would be better than what we have now!!

-- Posted by th1953 on Fri, Jan 15, 2010, at 9:03 PM

Lee - no, I usually just answer the phone with a simple "hello", I've always kind of figured that on most calls people know who they dialed and on the wrong numbers they are going to ask "who?" again when they didn't get who they thought they dialed anyway. Besides that, I spent a good deal of my life required to identify my unit, then myself by rank and name when answering telephones. I've used up all of my allotment of long telephone greetings.

Did I support Mayor Bradshaw in the election? Frankly, I don't remember who I voted for in the mayor's race and wouldn't reveal it anyway. I don't put out yard signs for anyone, even myself. Any conversations that I would have had would have been comparative as to the merits of both candidates, their strengths and weaknesses.

This city is always going to have problems, it will never be perfect or to everyone's liking. Don't take this wrong, but anyone who is so dissatisfied with the way it is can always go elsewhere. It is still a free country.

th1953 - No, pavement and blacktop, even with potholes is still better than gravel roads. When you have gravel, you are going to get that "washboard" effect at every stop sign with the amount of traffic on city streets rather quickly from vehicles braking. You can dodge most of the potholes most of the time, but you would be hitting that at every stop sign. I'd rather be "stirred" once in a while rather than "shaken" every time...LOL.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sat, Jan 16, 2010, at 7:16 AM

Wow, Leo L. Southworth, thanks for the reply. You really can't remember who you voted for Leo L. Southworth? I mean, jeeze, it's only been a cpl. years Leo L. Southworth. So your answer to someone who does not like what is going on in Brazil it to move? That's sort of a cop out isn't it, Leo L. Southworth?

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sat, Jan 16, 2010, at 7:22 PM

Since the Brazil Housing Authority told the City about the HUD program, it doesn't seem the City has went out of it's way to purchase the homes. However, the City shouldn't start a steady practice of buying reality and turning a profit, which I'm sure tax payers wouldn't see a decrease or return on taxes from the local governments benefit.

As for the roads in Brazil...I'm happy that the State will be replacing HWY 40 through the city in a couple years (all part of the Major Moves Project) but I also wish that the city of Brazil would work harder on improving the streets and sidewalks. Something that has always been a problem, but doesn't need to continue to be a problem.

I grew up in Brazil and now live 2 counties away...coming back to Brazil is hard, as progression isn't a practice that Brazil government and citizens have enforced.

-- Posted by ACC01 on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 12:48 AM

It seems one question is; should the city be in the real estate business? If it runs (it) like some of the public offices, then my vote/opinion is probably not. It sounds great to buy low and sell high but you have to ask yourself, where is the city going to get enough "fast" money to bring the houses up to code (which could include rewiring an entire house or installing a new heating/AC system)? Second, if this is such a great, money making opportunity, where are the private investors that usually jump at these types of properties when they are in foreclosure? Additionally, how can the city say these properties are sold via sealed bid but usually to low/moderate income people? Which is it, sealed bid or to low/moderate income families? How do they know who is low/moderate income and the highest bidder and not someone's family/friend? Remember, in real estate it is location, location, location.

As for the statement, (we) are not paving the streets because of the upcoming re-piping of the city water lines. Humm, good answer and timely too, don't you think. LOL. Isn't there something constructive that the city can be doing to the streets other than repaving them? By the way, have the city planners thought about addressing the storm drains (not draining) while the streets are dug up for new water pipes? Would that be the time to repair/address the storm drain system and if so, has the city projected the money for that projected? What is the projected time line for replacing all the water pipes and fire hydrants (are they're really 85 not working in the city - people's insurance companies might not want to hear about that)? Sounds like years of closed/dug up streets to me.

Something else to think about, the streets are not wide enough for fire protection equipment to respond. Parking should be restricted to one side of the street - I know it would be inconvenient but what if it was your house on fire? What has the city officials done about that except talked about it at a counsel meeting. Is it going to take someone dying to bring the issue back to the counsel and to resolution?

I am truly concerned about Brazil but the answer, "it's always been like that" reminds me of the statement, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." Is that a good reason or justification to do "nothing" including planning? Is that the attitude that will bring in new families who will contribute leadership, ideas and support to the community?

I would like the Brazil Times to talk with and then publish what the City Planning Committee has "been planning" for the city. If the citizens know what is coming in the future, they might certainly be a little more tolerant of the present condition.

-- Posted by C.A.B. (ConcernsAboutBrazil) on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 3:10 PM

Great post C.A.B.

-- Posted by I. M. Lee Thall, Esq. on Sun, Jan 17, 2010, at 7:54 PM

Hey TH1953 ... Best comment here. Should have gravel roads. Nothing worse than smacking a pothole going no more than the freakin' speedlimit, and breaking your second most costly investment. The broken roads are unacceptible. Go gravel, grate them regularly. More happy taxpayers.

-- Posted by OuttaTime on Mon, Jan 18, 2010, at 8:23 PM

Is anyone, lets say a relative maybe, of , oh, I don't know, the mayor maybe, going to have the chance to purchase a home at a really good price, or maybe do repairs the city is unable to do, perks of the job, who knows what else .....

-- Posted by Ombudsman on Tue, Jan 19, 2010, at 12:52 PM

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