Sanford using federal funds to preserve neighborhood's appeal

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SANFORD, Fla. - The city of Sanford is taking action to keep abandoned or vacant homes from dragging an entire neighborhood down near the center of town.

The city is using federal money to buy foreclosed homes and prepare them for low-income families.

Sanford is spending $50,000 dollars from a federal grant to buy a house on Marshall Avenue. Habitat for Humanity will renovate it, and prepare it for a new low-income family. The idea, according to city officials, is that if you save the house, you help save the entire neighborhood.

"That's our thinking. We can turn that house around, bring it up to standards, do some landscaping, and get an ideal family," said a city representative.

"We're very, very happy that they're doing it because we know the quality of the people they'll get in the house, and we like having good neighbors," said Elisabeth Prescott.

Prescott said moving a family into the vacant house next door to her means the house won't become an invitation for criminals to move in and create problems.

"I went to the police and said, 'It's very dark. It's going to become a meth lab or a place where people do things they shouldn't be,'" said Prescott.

The city eventually hopes to buy a total of 12 low-income houses. But there will be some money set aside for properties that are too far gone to renovate. In those cases the federal money will be used to demolish them.

"Some properties that have been abandoned or vacant and we're probably going to go in there and do demolition on those properties," said a city representative.

Buyers for the city-bought homes will have to meet strict criteria to join the program.