Since the Baby Boom, the suburbs have been the place to be.

The "burbs" lured families with inexpensive homes, planned development and lower taxes.While the suburbs' housing developments have boomed, residential neighborhoods of Salt Lake City have crumbled. Between 1980 to 1989, 1,933 housing units were demolished and more than 400 others boarded up, said Susan Hardy, director of the Salt Lake Community Development Corp.

"They proliferate like a little cancer. You start with one and then you've got five," she said.

The Own in Salt Lake program aims to reverse that trend. Beginning Monday, low- to moderate-income families may apply for $2,000 loans/

grants to be used toward a down payment, closing costs and improvement of homes within the community development corporation's target areas. (See map)

"We do believe in order to stabilize our neighborhoods we should encourage ownership not rentals," she said.

If the owner/occupant lives in the home five years, the loan becomes a grant. If the buyers move during the five-year period, they must repay a pro rata portion of the loan plus interest. The program is funded by Salt Lake City and the federal government and is not intended for investors.

Most of the homes in the target areas cost between $35,000 and $42,000, which translates to monthly mortgage payments of $289 to $300 including taxes. "We believe most of those people pay it already in rent," Hardy said.

Participants also must qualify for conventional financing and bring $500 cash to the purchase.

The idea is to give the buyer "ownership" in their property and neighborhood, Hardy said. "It's my property. I care about it. I wouldn't trash it. I don't want it to go to the dogs."

The program is patterned after the Own in Ogden program, which was started about 21/2 years ago. Hardy said of the 138 homeowners who received grants, only five homes were returned to their owners or lending institutions.

"You can see what a huge success it is," Hardy said.

The Salt Lake Community Development Corp. was established as a non-profit community development corporation by the Salt Lake Association of Community Councils last summer. Its charge is to find financial and development solutions for the distressed areas of the eight community council districts in which abandoned houses, neglected properties, inappropriate zoning decisions or absentee ownership threaten an entire residential neighborhood.


(Additional information)

Eligibility for loan/grants

Who: Low- to moderate-income people who want to buy homes in the Salt Lake Community Development Corp.'s target areas. (See map)

What: Loan/grants of $2,000 each for 23 eligible buyers.

Where: Apply in person at 218 E. 500 South.

When: Beginning Monday, March 18.