Gas boom revives W.Va. housing incentive program

August 22, 2012
Shale Play

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A state incentive program designed to increase home construction is being revived in response to the natural gas industry's growth.

Builders who cannot find buyers for homes at least 180 days after construction can sell them to the West Virginia Housing Development Fund at 70 to 85 percent of the appraised value. The agency will buy new unsold homes valued at $250,000.

"We're not trying to build really expensive homes," said Steve Fisher, the agency's deputy director of program operations. "We're trying to get homes built in the middle range, the types of homes folks are asking for."

The agency expects to buy about 100 homes annually and has allocated $2.5 million for the program.

Acting executive director Erica Boggess said business leaders in the natural gas industry have told the agency that it is difficult to find safe, affordable housing.

The Constructing Affordable Sensible Homes, or CASH, program began in 1993 to address a shortage of housing in north-central West Virginia. The housing agency stopped the program in 2008 when West Virginia's housing market declined.

"It alleviates some of the risk for builders," Fisher said.

Builders wanting to participate in the program must pay a $200 fee to apply.

The program also works well with an existing program that provides loans of up to $150,000 to cities and counties that want to demolish abandoned buildings, Boggess said.

"It seems only natural that building a new home on a demolition site could go a long way toward revitalizing that neighborhood," Boggess said.