Tampa to sell first Nehemiah Project house - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa to sell first Nehemiah Project house

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One of the new houses in Sulphur Springs One of the new houses in Sulphur Springs
Mayor Buckhorn a realtor for a day Mayor Buckhorn a realtor for a day
Kitchen in the new house Kitchen in the new house
The interior in the house The interior in the house

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will try on a new job Tuesday. He will become a realtor. He wants to sell houses in one of the city's poorest and most troubled neighborhoods. The first one goes on the market Tuesday morning.

"We're trying to do what we can to stop the bleeding, if you will," explained Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Crews started bulldozing condemned and vacant houses in Sulphur Springs last year as part of the Nehemiah Project. There are now 70 vacant lots and 11 new homes are up or currently under construction.

"When you eliminate the blight and you eliminate the rentals, and you give people an opportunity for home ownership they're going to plant roots and they're going to make sure that the neighborhood doesn't deteriorate like it had," said Buckhorn.

The city has pumped $1.4 million into the project. Each time a house is sold at market rate, for an average of about $85,000, another house will be built with the proceeds. Lenders and realtors are working with the city to sell to interested families who might not qualify for conventional loans.

"It's probably one of Tampa's toughest neighborhoods and if we're ever going to have an opportunity to give those kids a better life, than it starts with the basic fundamentals. And housing is one of those fundamentals," said Buckhorn.

The Mayor claims crime has gone down 20 percent in Sulphur Springs since the bulldozers rolled in. The city has also installed more than 400 street lights for safety and hauled away 150 tons of trash.

"It's not the be all end all and it's not going to cure the problem. But it will certainly go a long way to stem that bleeding," said Buckhorn.

An open house will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the first house up for sale at 8303 N 13th St. in Tampa.

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