August 26, 2003
LANSING – Governor Granholm announced today that four new-construction, single-family homes will be built on vacant lots in Benton Harbor thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). All of the homes will be built in the vicinity of Pavone and Empire streets in Benton Harbor by the local nonprofit Cornerstone Alliance.
“By providing a quick and clean process to help the people of Benton Harbor with critical housing issues, we are demonstrating how swiftly state agencies can partner with local communities when the chips are down,” Granholm said. “I am pleased to announce that MSHDA has responded with a generous grant of $250,000 to help a number of displaced families get back into safe, affordable housing.”
According to Granholm, dislocated families will be given first priority to purchase the homes. Assisting the potential homebuyers with homeownership counseling and information on securing a mortgage will be Home Ownership Made Easier (HOME) of Benton Harbor.
While the MSHDA funds will be used for home construction, the Cornerstone Alliance and Chemical Shoreline Bank will provide low-interest, first-mortgage funding to prospective homeowners.
The process will be used to encourage local builders to gain experience in working with MSHDA. Benton Harbor contractor Fletcher McAfee of McAfee Construction will complete two of the four houses.
The local Youth Build Program will assist in this effort so local residents can learn housing construction skills – with workers assisting local sub-contractors as part of this project.
Not only will the construction project add value to this community, the end result will be new homes for some very fortunate families. The families who were displaced by civil unrest earlier this summer will have a priority opportunity to qualify for purchasing the new homes. They will be selected through a systematic process that includes counseling and training to help them become eligible for the MSHDA funding.
Construction for the new homes should be underway by early October.
“This project is just one example of our willingness to partner with local communities to help them rebuild and renew,” said Granholm. “We have made our commitment and are thrilled that MSHDA is placing new homes and families on vacant lots in an area where the impact will be incalculable.”
The state’s housing development authority is working with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity to build a fifth home in Benton Harbor, the details of which will be announced in the near future.