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Ray Boone, Deseret News
Community Development Corporation of Utah unveiled its second Idea House in South Salt Lake on Thursday, April 20, 2017. The group buys homes, rehabilitates them and sells them to low- to moderate-income working class families. The home at 156 E. Whitlock Ave. will soon be on the market.

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Charles Gardner has seen what 60 years have done to his neighborhood.

"The porch was open when we bought it," Garner said of his South Salt Lake home. "My wife was afraid someone was going to fall off of it."

Gardner, 83, bought the home for $9,500.

"(I) paid it off after a few years," he said. "Yeah, a lot has changed since then."

The cost of buying a house isn't the only thing that's changed.

"I think that used to be a drug house," Gardner said as he pointed toward the end of his street. "It seems like (this area) has a lot of criminal activity lately. It wasn't that way when I got here."

But in the past few months, he's seeing a different kind of change. And it's a good one.

It's called an "Idea House."

"We purchase it, rehabilitate it, and then sell it to a low- to moderate-income, working-class family," said Diane Hartz Warsoff, with Community Development Corporation of Utah.

The latest Idea House at 156 E. Whitlock Ave. is a partnership between the local nonprofit organization and South Salt Lake. The "idea" is that it will kick-start the neighborhood.

"Usually these (houses) are in pretty bad shape," Hartz Warsoff said. "This house was contaminated with meth."

Now, it's family ready.

"This house is updated now, and I'm sure we'll get some great neighbors," said Sarah Cisneros, who owns the home next-door.

Area residents are welcoming the changes in the neighborhood.

"I don't want to live in a run-down place," Gardner said.

The South Salt Lake home is the 40th to be rehabilitated through the Idea House program in Utah since 2010, and its the second in South Salt Lake. Idea Houses also have been fixed up and sold in Kearns and Magna, and several other lower-income communities throughout Salt Lake County and other parts of the state.

Not only have neighbors and community organizations seen crime rates decrease, but more buyers are also coming into the neighborhoods.

"It has a great impact on all the neighborhoods," Hartz Warsoff said. "A study was done by Unified police in other parts of the county where we've done these houses, and crime goes down significantly as well. They say crime calls go down 80 percent after one of these Idea Houses is occupied by a resident."

The house isn't on the market yet, but when it is, the asking price will be $199,000.