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Federal dollars will help refurbish foreclosed homes in Washington County

The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted at its June 9 meeting to approve an agreement that will allow the county to use $1.6 million in federal stimulus funds to help purchase and rehabilitate homes in the county.

The funds come from the 2008 Housing and Economic Recovery Act, through Minnesota Housing to be used to rehabilitate blighted or foreclosed homes.

The county will work with the Washington County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, Two Rivers Community Land Trust, and the cities of Cottage Grove and Oakdale to acquire, rehabilitate and sell up to 42 units of foreclosed homes and rental properties in those communities.

The homes will then be sold to eligible buyers who meet income guidelines. The homebuyers will also be required to attend an eight-hour class on homeownership.

Washington County Commissioner Myra Peterson, who represents the Cottage Grove area, said the foreclosed homes that will be refurbished with the federal funding are in areas that are higher in density and that have close access to public transit, which will make them more appealing to young families and retired persons.

"To make an investment in that neighborhood is good, fiscal responsibility for the long term," Peterson said.