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Local project manager launches home renovation campaign

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Published:   |   Updated: April 16, 2014 at 05:24 PM

The day after architectural project manager Brandon Peak launched an Indiegogo online crowdsourcing campaign to develop high quality, affordable home ownership opportunities in New Port Richey, he loaded up his two daughters into the car and drove around his neighborhood to scout out houses.

“We wanted to see what kind of properties were out there and in just a few blocks there were at least a dozen properties that were obviously vacant and dilapidated,” Peak said. “It’s more than the city government can handle keeping up with banks and landlords. It’s an uphill battle and I want to join the fight and help make a change.”

Peak, who moved to New POrt Richey from Central Pennsylvania last year, loves his new home but sees a need for affordable housing in a city blighted by abandoned foreclosed houses and overgrown landscaping.

He decided to put his skills as an architectural project manager to use and formed limited liability company 317Development, along with the launch of the Indiegogo page to set up 317Development as a legal entity, purchase the down payment and closing costs on a real New Port Richey property and put down deposits on renovation costs.

The $9,000 Peak is asking for is to offset the costs of the first project. As of writing, the campaign has raised $1,400 with 16 days left to fundraise. Regardless of whether he reaches his goal, Peak said, the project will move forward and at least one property will be purchased and renovated through partnerships with local banks and contacts in real estate, construction, insurance, lending and more.

“Please keep in mind, that one of the best parts of this effort, is that from just this one project, the seed gets planted to grow many future projects,” Peak wrote on his campaign page. “Your donation will grow into 10… 20… projects in the coming years.”

Peak is taking a three-pronged approach, starting with the houses. The first step is to address the properties that need someone to come along and do something about them.

“We saw nice, well-kept, well-loved homes right next to run-down empty houses with busted windows and overgrown lawns,” Peak said.

The second prong is the people. 30 percent of all housing units in the city are rented, Peak said.

“There are bad landlords, houses in foreclosure without the owner even knowing, and houses n deplorable condition and landlords won’t do anything despite people spending a lot of money in rent,” Peak said.

The third prong is creating a model that can be replicated by others.

“I’m nobody special,” Peak said. “I think this model I’m working on is something that can be done by others”

The idea is based on private investment. Through 317Development, Peak could purchase and renovate a property, then refinance it through a local bank at low interest rates. Peak would like to find tenants to occupy the home under a short-term lease option, about twelve months, also known as “rent to own.”

Ideally, Peak said, families could move into the homes at a monthly rate equal to or less than they’d pay for an apartment. Part of their monthly rent in the new property under the short-term lease would go into an escrow account toward a down payment on the house.

The potential homeowners would purchase the property through 317Development through a conventional mortgage after 12 months of building up their credit through monthly rent payments.

“The ability for them to transition from lease option period to home ownership period could be in certain cases no out-of-pocket expenses for them, which is radical,” Peak said.

Any profits will be put into the next project. Peak said he’s fortunate to have a full-time job that takes care of his family and all that all of his time on this project will be on a volunteer basis. He said the Indiegogo campaign is just as much about raising awareness of the need for this kind of project as it is about raising money.

“It needs to be done and it can be done,” Peak said.

If all goes according to plan, Peak said, then “potentially by summertime we could see the first hammer swinging.”

For more information about this project and to contribute to it, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sustainable-residential-development-new-port-richey-fl.

You can follow Daylina Miller on Twitter at @DaylinaMiller.

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