By Tom Farmer
Corporate Communications, MassHousing
NEW BEDFORD – The before and after photos of 217 Cottage Street are striking.
Before the formerly vacant home was reclaimed and renovated, it was overgrown with vegetation and its clapboard siding and roof were in serious disrepair. The inside of the four-bedroom dwelling was even worse, with trash strewn about and the walls and floors seriously decayed.
But what was once an eyesore on the Cottage Street neighborhood is now a gleaming, completely refurbished new home for a first-time homebuyer as a result of a partnership between the city of New Bedford, the Massachusetts Attorney General, MassHousing, the New Bedford/Fall River Housing Partnership, and the non-profit The Resource Inc. (TRI).
"This house has been abandoned for more than four years and if you have seen the before and after pictures you know there has been a little bit of a miracle that has taken place," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Some lucky family is going to be able to move into this home and what's wonderful about that is not just for that family but for this neighborhood."
When the elderly woman who last owned the home passed away with no will and no apparent heirs, the property soon fell into disrepair and became abandoned. It was reclaimed through the Attorney General's Receivership Program and the city's Office of Housing and Community Development.
The home was purchased and rehabbed by the non-profit TRI and TRI is now accepting applications from first-time buyers who will be entered into a lottery with the winner getting the chance to buy the home at the discounted price of $167,500.
Renovations included new roofing and siding, insulation, energy efficient windows, a new kitchen and two new bathrooms with energy efficient appliances and fixtures and a new energy efficient heating system.
The potential buyers are being pre-approved by local lenders through MassHousing and the New Bedford/Fall River Housing Partnership's Buy New Bedford Program. To date, the Attorney General's Receivership Program has been involved in nearly 50 abandoned or distressed properties in New Bedford with eight having a receiver appointed to rehabilitate the property and in many other cases the AG's involvement has spurred banks or owners to make necessary repairs.
"Getting foreclosed and abandoned properties back in shape for new homebuyers is critical for neighborhoods across Massachusetts,' said MassHousing Executive Director Thomas R. Gleason. "It takes a collaborative effort like you see here with 217 Cottage St. We're very pleased to be able to provide mortgage financing for these new homebuyers. By partnering with the Attorney General, the city of New Bedford, the New Bedford/Fall River Housing Partnership and TRI, we can restore these properties and revitalize neighborhoods."
MassHousing Home Ownership Business Development Officers Goretti Joaquim and Angelo Nuby
The rehabilitation of 217 Cottage St. was particularly satisfying for New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who lives in the neighborhood and drove by the blighted home every day.
"It has been eyesore for a long time," he said. "Somebody will be the lucky owner of this place. More than anything else the Receivership Program is a response to the foreclosure crisis we had in 2008 all across America that played out in neighborhoods like this one where abandonment and foreclosure have had enormous ripple effects. This is a very cost effective use of public funds, both city and state, and private funds, that will allow this neighborhood to rejuvenate."