More welcome mats and fewer lockboxes dangling from the doorknobs of foreclosed-upon homes.
That's the goal of the city of North Las Vegas, whose slice of the federally funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program hopes to set a new scene in ZIP codes riddled by foreclosure and abandonment.
The city has about 39 homes available, purchased with $8.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds to make new neighbors of qualified home buyers. The program, also known as NSP, provides up to $25,000 in additional funds for down payments or closing costs.
The empty homes speckle neighborhoods younger than a decade old, said city of North Las Vegas Grants Program Coordinator Rick Damian, and have been upgraded with an emphasis on energy efficiency.
The city targeted properties with ZIP codes of 89031, 89032, 89081, 89084 and 89086, areas hardest hit when the housing market bubble burst, city of North Las Vegas spokeswoman Juliet Casey said.
"This program goes in and helps get control of those homes; (it) gets them back up to snuff," she said.
Twenty homes have been sold through the program since 2010, yet many people don't know the program exists, said Beth Posey, community service analyst for the city of North Las Vegas.
"It's something I'm really interested in people getting into," she said. "Home buyers make good citizens."
The available homes range from 1,200 to 20,000 square feet and have three or four bedrooms. Their prices vary.
But the program isn't "a free ride" to home ownership, Housing of Nevada housing counselor Eric Chavez said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has stringent guidelines for prospective NSP home buyers, so they aren't "trapped into the same problem" that caused the former foreclosure, Casey said.
Interested parties must seek out an NSP grantee to apply and meet credit and employment requirements. Cities around the country partner with nonprofit housing developers, such as Housing of Nevada, to coordinate the sales.
The up to $25,000 in assistance funds are deferred loans that must be reimbursed even if owners change within the payback period, Chavez said.
The boosts, albeit with strings attached, have put keys in the hands of many once-hopeless home buyers.
"They make it known to us," Chavez said. "(They say), 'We couldn't have done this without you.' "
Their new dwellings are also up to code and sport energy-efficient upgrades, measures that amount to long-term savings for the new home buyer, he said.
To view a list of homes and learn about the city of North Las Vegas' NSP partnership, visit cityofnorthlasvegas.com, click the "Departments & Services" tab and select "Neighborhood Services."
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-3839.