Housing Authority OKs measure to clear path to homeownership for William's Delight residents

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ST. CROIX - The federal official who oversees the V.I. Housing Authority and acts as its board on Friday approved a resolution that officials say is necessary to clear a final hurdle so that qualified residents of William's Delight housing community can purchase their homes.

Kimberly Wize, of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, approved a resolution that authorizes Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Graham to sell and convey 12 single-family homes in William's Delight and execute all the documents necessary for the sale.

Graham told Wize at a meeting on Friday that the resolution is necessary to provide some assurance to the title company that the executive director has the approval of the board to convey the properties.

"Without this, the title company could not proceed," he said.

The resolution lists 12 properties in the William's Delight housing community that may be sold.

Graham said after the meeting that at least 10 of the 12 homes have buyers - all residents of William's Delight housing community - who are in various stages of completing the necessary paperwork for the sale.

Arriving at this point - where some William's Delight residents are ready to close on their home purchase - has been a long process.

Homeownership has been an aspiration of William's Delight residents since the public housing community was built in 1969.

However, it was not until 2001 that residents were given that option. A short time later, the homeownership program came to an abrupt halt after only 14 of the houses had been purchased.

Since then, William's Delight residents have made a concerted effort to get officials to reinstate some sort of homeownership program, with the issue at times becoming political.

HUD finally approved a homeownership plan for William's Delight in 2012.

Although a resolution Wize passed in July seemed to be the final hurdle at the time, another issue cropped up that required the resolution she approved on Friday, officials said.

William's Delight resident Daphne Edwards, who is a member of a local advisory board for Wize, has been attending Housing Authority meetings for years and pushing for the opportunity to buy her home.

She spoke at the end of Friday's meeting.

"It's about time. I have been waiting too long, madame chair," Edwards said to Wize. "So apparently things are working my way now."

Wize apologized about the amount of time it has taken to close on the property, but said the circumstances that created the issues were out of her control.

Graham said that everything had been done to ensure that the closing for Edward's home would occur. He said later Friday that it should occur in the next week or so.

Although the Housing Authority had initially planned to offer more units at William's Delight for sale, only 12 units are noted on the resolution.

That decision was based on the response received from residents, according to Graham.

"Those are the ones that responded and said they were interested and believed they had the wherewithal to purchase," Graham said.

He said that if another group of residents demonstrate financial capability and interest, "we would consider another round."

"We want to get through the first 12 and let the homeowner's association embrace them and see where we go from there," he said. "We're taking care of the first group, then we will look to see if we have enough funds to go to next group."

In other action, Wize approved entering a sewer line utility easement agreement with Reliance-Hospital Ground Associates Limited Liability Limited Partnership to connect the sewer line from the new Amalie Terrace Apartments on St. Thomas to the existing sewer system infrastructure through the authority's Bergs Home housing community.

The easements are 195 square feet and 765 square feet where the two properties meet. The value for each was approximately $4,877, according to Lydia Hughes, Housing Authority director of modernization and development.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email jblackburn@dailynews.vi.

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