Stabilizing Neighborhoods: Douglas County

ADDRESSING THE AFTERMATH OF THE FORECLOSURE CRISIS
Impact of Rehab Investments on Neighborhood Home Values in Douglas County, GA

Analysis by Epic Intentions on behalf of ANDP

DouglasImpact-smIn the aftermath of the devastating foreclosure crisis, many metro Atlanta neighborhoods have seen little to no recovery. Metro communities, particularly in suburban markets south and west of the city, continue to struggle with blight, vacancies, and depressed home values. Underwater homeowners, homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth, often lack the resources and incentives to make property tax payments or keep up with basic home maintenance and repairs leading to an ongoing pattern of neighborhood disinvestment and deterioration. Increasing home values in underwater communities helps to stabilize impacted families and their neighborhoods.

Do scattered-site, single-family community development efforts, through initiatives like the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), stimulate recovery and lift overall home values in these suburban neighborhoods? Can the impact of these efforts be measured quantitatively to better understand community development strategies that work in suburban settings?

The purpose of this analysis is to measure the impact of home rehab investments made by Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP) on overall neighborhood values in foreclosure-impacted neighborhoods in suburban Douglas County, Georgia. ANDP is a 24-year old housing nonprofit focused on addressing the foreclosure crisis and recovery throughout the metro region.

“Using property data supplied by Douglas County Appraisal Department and ANDP we examined fair market value of all taxable properties in the study neighborhoods and the impact rehab efforts made on surrounding communities. The data clearly shows a relational impact between ANDP rehab activity and values of other homes within the neighborhood and on homes in neighboring communities,” explained Tom Wells, project leader from Epic Intentions.

Wells and his Epic Intentions team worked with Benny Waldrop, Douglas County’s chief appraiser to analyze home value data for 30 neighborhoods that included NSP program homes.

“Providing fair and equitable tax assessments is essential in our work. We were happy to participate in this study as it helps us understand the value programs of this nature can have on our housing stock, neighborhood home values and community benefit,” said Benny Waldrop, Douglas County chief appraiser.   

From 2010 to 2013, ANDP acquired, improved and resold 53 scattered-site single-family homes to owner-occupant families in 30 Douglas County neighborhoods. According to this analysis, $2.3 million in home rehab investments made by ANDP resulted in an increase of $14.6 million in values for surrounding properties, a multiplying increase of more than six to one.

The homes studied for this report were all homes sold under the NSP program in Douglas County, a suburban county minutes away from downtown Atlanta.

“Under the NSP program, we have transformed distressed, foreclosed homes in Douglas County into beautiful, quality homes in new condition. This program has been a critical component of the County’s effort to stabilize communities, lift home values, and support housing affordability,” explained Tracy Rye, director of Douglas County Planning and Zoning Department.

Through the NSP program, HOME program and partnerships with the private sector, ANDP has acquired, rehabed and sold 435 homes in metro Atlanta.

 “This study confirms our belief that an investment in single-family acquisition/rehab programs provides critically needed affordable homeownership for families while lifting values for the surrounding neighborhood. It’s a win for the county’s tax rolls, a win for housing affordability and most importantly, a win to help lift home values in distressed neighborhoods,” explained John O’Callaghan, ANDP president and CEO.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

Epic Intentions Draft 2_1ABOUT EPIC INTENTIONS – Epic Intentions is an interdisciplinary society of Georgia Tech volunteers whose purpose is to aid local non-profits, social enterprises, and civicminded entrepreneurs through service-oriented design projects. Epic Intentions seeks to leverage the unique skills of Georgia Tech students to give back to the community by solving problems for local non-profits. The structure benefits both students and partners. Students are able to leverage their unique technical skills through hands on, multidisciplinary projects that solve real world problems. Our partners are able to receive innovative technical solutions without needing an extensive staff or budget diverted away from their primary objectives.

OUR THANKS – The Douglas County Appraisal Department is responsible for making appraisals of the fair market value of all taxable property in the county in accordance with the laws, rules and regulations established by the State of Georgia and Department of Revenue. The Douglas County Appraisal Department provided ANDP and Epic Intentions with County data showing the values in the 30 neighborhoods where ANDP sold homes for tax digest years 2008-2013. Special thanks to Benny Waldrop, Chief Appraiser, Douglas County.

Special thanks to Epic Intentions team lead Tom Wells who provided exceptional leadership and support.

LIFTING HOME VALUES FOR DOUGLAS RESIDENTS

Douglas-StaceyMathess

Stacey is one of 53 homebuyers in Douglas County, Georgia from 2009 to 2013 whose home sale lifted neighborhood home values. Read our report on how rehab of vacant homes improving the financial outlook for many Douglas homeowners. MORE

When Stacey’s lease came up for renewal, she seized the opportunity to make a change in her life. She began researching homes for sale in Douglas County
and found a realtor who introduced her to the NSP program.

As an eighth-grade language arts teacher in the Douglas County School System,Stacey knew she wanted to purchase in Douglas to be close to her job. When she walked into the home that would become her own, it immediately felt like the perfect fit. “I could just picture myself living there,” she said.

The three-bedroom/two-bath house was the right size for Stacey and her dog Scarlet. She also liked the extra room off the garage that would allow her to “grow with the house.” Her only hesitation was that the home was slightly older than some of the brand-new homes she and her realtor had visited. Without family living in town to help her, Stacey didn’t want to worry about dealing with a broken air-conditioner or dishwasher in the middle of the night. When she learned that the NSP rehab included new appliances and a new AC/heating unit, she felt much more comfortable.

She loves the neighborhood and her new neighbors, especially the children.Stacey’s favorite feature of her home? The hardwood floors that are easy to keep clean with dogs. Two weeks after she moved in, Stacey adopted her puppy Woody as a playmate for Scarlet. She enjoys having a yard for her dogs to play.

Stacey is thrilled to be a new homeowner. “It’s mine,” she says of her first home. “I can hang things on the wall. I can paint. And, I know my money is going to something now.”

Stacey is pictured with her dogs Scarlet and Woody.