116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Josh and Alyssa Hulme say they've gotten themselves a little piece of heaven on a corner lot in Wellington Heights, the southeast Cedar Rapids neighborhood that has been in the headlines at times for the wrong reasons.
The young couple with a 1-year-old son, and a baby on the way, closed Friday afternoon on a 30-year mortgage for a new two-story, $150,000 home at 340 14th St. SE with a monthly payment less than the rent they had been paying three blocks away.
A package of neighborhood-rebuilding incentives that equate to a $65,000 down payment helped the couple decide to plant a stake in the neighborhood and to encourage other young couples to follow.
'I've never been in a new house before,” said Josh Hulme, 21, a member consultant at Collins Credit Union, after closing on the purchase Friday. 'So to actually be inside one that was built for us that we've been dreaming and thinking about. ... It's been incredible to see that dream become reality.”
Josh and Alyssa Hulme, 22, a stay-at-home mother, are something of pioneers, the first of eight families who will take on mortgages with the help of hefty incentives and live in new homes as part of the Affordable Housing Network Inc.'s ambitious effort to turn around an 18-block area of Wellington Heights.
Joe Lock, executive director of AHNI, a subsidiary of Four Oaks, said the new homes are the first in half a century in this part of the neighborhood.
'It's great to see young families help strengthen this neighborhood,” said Lock, who was on hand to give the Hulmes the keys to their new house.
The closing on three additional new homes in the neighborhood is slated for the next four weeks, and AHNI plans to build four new homes there next year.
The homes are going up as AHNI is in the process of buying 100 properties in the neighborhood, renovating them and selling some while managing the others as part of a project called TotalChild.
Lock said the organization has bought 89 properties to date and has fully renovated about 60 of them.
A total of 602 households are in the 18-block project area, and in May 2012, 49 percent were owner-occupied single-family homes. The rest were rentals. The TotalChild goal is to increase the percentage of owner-occupied single-family homes to about 65 percent, and the eight new houses are a push in the right direction, Lock said.
'What the city and national statistics will tell you for this kind of community in this kind of neighborhood is it's important for long-term neighborhood stability to increase the number of single-family homes,” Lock said. 'In single-family homes, people are putting their money and equity and hopes and dreams into these houses. So they're going to be there for a long time.”
Alyssa Hulme said she and her husband intend to settle into their new home for the long haul. 'It's perfect. It's such a blessing,” she said.
Lock said the city's housing replacement program, Rebuilding Ownership Opportunities Together or ROOTs, is providing $37,500 in down payment assistance for the Hulmes from federal disaster dollars. In addition, the couple got an $11,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation and $16,500 from the Four Oaks program.
AHNI continues to look for people willing to invest in a new house with similar incentives for lots at 1419 Fifth Ave., 1241 Third Ave., and 1413 and 1417 Bever Ave. SE.