Million dollar changes underway in KCK neighborhood

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Some of the first new homes in more than 50 years to be built in one neighborhood here offer hope to end decades of blight. The changes are underway in the Douglas Sumner area.

The mayor is joining other neighborhood leaders Thursday to celebrate the four new homes that have been completed.

A $1.2 million grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development paid for construction of the houses. Gov. Sam Brownback helped secure the grant when he served as U.S. Senator.

The houses are just down the street from the award-winning Sumner Academy. The goal of the effort is to bring families back and eliminate blight in the neighborhood.

"With each new home comes new sidewalks, new residents who care about safety of the neighborhood," said Stephen Samuels, executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a community development financial institution. "New landscaping comes, new services in back alleys. It's not just a house itself. It can really change the face of the street, block and ultimately the neighborhood."

The first home has already been sold for $165,000 to a Budanese immigrant family. All the homes have three bedrooms and two baths, with rear entry garages. They also have earned energy star silver ratings for efficiency.

"I want to see the taxes go down," said Beatrice Lee, president of the Douglas Sumner Neighborhood Association. "The only thing that's going to do that is people and families. I want to see families back just like when I was here. Children playing. We've got number one Sumner Academy High School right around the corner. And we have all of that."

Lee says some folks are scared off by the purchase price, thinking they can't afford it. But she says there are incentives, including down payment assistance. She says those who want to live near downtown should apply.

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