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The first house that is a part of the LiveEvanston program, Evanston’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2), was sold on January 5, 2012. Christopher and Jessie Meeks who, with their two children Christopher and Jace, had been renters in Evanston are now the proud new owners of this bright, new home that features a new kitchen with granite counters, energy efficient stainless steel appliances, insulation, siding, roof, plus new landscaping and many other improvements. Photos here>>>

“The program was a real blessing; personally my wife and I believe this program is giving the working class family a chance to own an affordable home. To us the program means the difference between waiting years to accumulate an expensive down payment, and possibly having to ‘settle’ for a place to live, instead having the beautiful home we have just closed on,” said Christopher Meeks, new property owner. “In my opinion it is good for the community because it is helping to stabilize the hardest hit neighborhoods in Evanston. Also by offering the ‘first look’ to Evanston residents it gives the people of the Evanston community’s first opportunity to own a great home in the city they love.”

The Meeks family loves the diversity in the community and the Evanston schools and believes Evanston is a great place to raise their children. For them, the opportunity to own a home, is realizing a childhood dream, “The chance to look at a piece of property and say to ourselves, ‘this is our home,’” added Meeks.

“This is exactly the outcome we had hoped for with NSP2 in that these properties would encourage Evanston residents to stay in Evanston, buy up these great new properties and help revitalize the community so hard hit by the recession and foreclosures,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “The hard work of Senator Durbin and Congresswoman Schakowsky along with a strong NSP2 application submitted by city staff is paying off starting with this great, newly rehabbed property on Grey Street. This indeed is proof positive that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is working.”

“This program is exactly what we needed to turn the Grey Street neighborhood around,” said Alderman Delores Holmes (Fifth Ward). “From foreclosures and gun violence to the rebirth of a neighborhood, it’s families like the Meeks’ moving onto the street and neighborhood groups like the Grey Street Neighbors that ARE making Grey Street ‘the place to live’ in Evanston.”

The property, located at 1704 Grey Street in Evanston, is a split level home on a prominent corner in West Evanston across from Evanston Township High School. When the property was acquired through the LiveEvanston program in July 2010, the building had deteriorated. The property’s poor condition was a clear blight on the block, an indicator of the housing downturn and disinvestment. At the time of acquisition, the property was partially gutted and filled with mold. The floor plan was obsolete and needed to be updated to be both marketable and functional. The roof, siding, electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, furnace, hot water heater, condenser, fixtures, cabinets, countertops and appliances all needed to be upgraded or replaced.

The city’s NSP2 program, marketed as LiveEvanston, is a great opportunity for families in Evanston who think homeownership or quality rental in Evanston is out of their reach, or for people who work in Evanston and want to live closer to their work. “LiveEvanston makes high-quality Evanston homes truly affordable,” said Mayor Tisdahl who commends LiveEvanston on working with local employers to inform their employees about the program.

NSP2 is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is managing this $1.93 billion program to help stabilize neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the effects of foreclosed and abandoned properties. The City of Evanston is receiving $18.15 million to acquire and rehabilitate 100 housing units of foreclosed or abandoned housing for sale or rent by households whose incomes do not exceed 120% of the area median income.

For more information on LiveEvanston, including income guidelines, visit www.LiveEvanston.net or www.cityofevanston.org/nsp2.