(JACKSON, Miss.) – The organizers of a project that is restoring homes in West Jackson will hold a neighborhood tour and informational workshop from 9-11 a.m. Saturday, April 30, at Koinonia Coffee House, 136 S. Adams St. near the Metro Parkway in Jackson.
Called the WESToration Initiative, the program enables new or existing homeowners in West Jackson to apply for mortgage loans to finance properties and pay for renovation costs.
The workshop will include an information session, a neighborhood trolley ride, a tour of two homes and a discussion with financial education specialist Amia Edwards with CredAbility regarding credit repair. Mississippi Department of Archives and History architectural historian Todd Saunders will be a part of the trolley ride denoting the architectural details of the featured homes. Anyone who is interested in the program is welcome.
“A representative from Authentic Historical Designs will also be part of the tour to give people tips on what they can do with the houses,” said Curnis Upkins, III, program manager at Jackson State University’s Center for University-Based Development, which is promoting the project.
The target area for restoration encompasses a collection of neighborhoods including Pecan Park, West Park and Washington Addition and is bordered by Gallatin Street and Ellis Avenue from east to west and Capitol Street and U.S. 80 from north to south.
Launched in November 2010, the WESToration Initiative has already facilitated one home purchase and renovation, and several more are in the works.
The mortgage program, called 203(k), is administered by the Federal Housing Administration and is aimed at restoring and making older homes more energy efficient. To provide funds for the rehabilitation, the mortgage amount is based on the projected value of the property with the work completed. The loans can be used for projects ranging from replacing windows to a gut renovation.
The goal of the WESToration Initiative is to save the historic structures in the area by attracting new homebuyers and helping existing homeowners fix up their homes, said Kimberly Hilliard, director of JSU’s Center for University-Based Development, which is promoting the project.
Hilliard said the neighborhood offers close-to-downtown living with the added benefit of having a yard and access to parks and plenty of public schools. Homeowners would also quickly build equity because the homes in the area are greatly undervalued, some selling for less than $10,000.
The program is a West Jackson initiative led by Cornerstone Home Lending and whose partners include the JSU Center for University-Based Development, Atmos Energy, Wright Concepts and Leah Cim Real Estate and Property Management.
An application for a 203(k) mortgage requires an estimate from a licensed contractor for the work the loan will cover. Bo Smith of Cornerstone Home Lending said the program allows for homeowners to live within their means while customizing their houses to their specific taste and lifestyle.
“If people could realize they could do this to these houses, it could change the landscape of consideration of homes in West Jackson,” Smith said.
To RSVP for the April 30 workshop, call the JSU Center for University-Based Development at 601-979-2255 or register online at: