City, federal leaders tout LA neighborhood recovery program

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Local and federal leaders today promoted a South Los Angeles program that aims to rehabilitate what they call “the worst foreclosed homes” in the city.

TV news crews and photographers trailed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as he toured a newly refurbished two-bedroom home at 66th Street and Menlo Avenue not far from the 110 Freeway.

The city of L.A. recently renovated the house under the mayor’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program. City leaders say they expect to refurbish hundreds more homes throughout this area and in the San Fernando Valley.

The federal government’s paying for the effort. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has pumped just over $140 million in stimulus money into the initiative.

L.A. uses that money to acquire the properties and restore them to tip-top shape. Then it re-sells or rents them to people with low and moderate incomes.

Officials promoted “greening” components of the house on 66th, the first that the program has sold. Shirley Alford says she plans to move into this home on 66th Street next month. She bought the place for just over $170,000 – and only needed to offer a 1 percent down payment. Her daughter discovered the city housing program while surfing the net.

“I really do appreciate her helping me because if it wasn’t for her I wanted to give up. You know what I’m saying? I was really tired of looking after two years. That’s a long time to look for a house, you know?" she said.

Neighbors looked on as leaders talked up the program. One of them, just down the street, said he wishes the mayor would focus on other problems in the neighborhood – like patching up potholes.