Homeowners push to move out of Boynton Beach neighborhood

CRA grants not enough to help people afford homes

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Efforts to make housing affordable in Boynton Beach's central district have backfired. Decisions the city's Community Redevelopment Agency, or C.R.A. made to fill vacancies is instead emptying homes.

When Erica Poag first bought her condo at The Preserve near Gateway and N.E. 4th Street in 2007, she had some help. A $50,000 grant from the C.R.A. allowed her to buy a $239,000 condo. But the recession coupled with a decision the agency made in 2010, has Erica leaving.

"It's unsettling, my house is beautiful on the inside, but I don't like walking outside," says Poag.

The C.R.A. changed the dynamic of the development when it opened up 50 units as low income rentals. With trash littering the area, and a broken front gate, Poag says the quality of life has changed. 

Mayor Woodrow Hay, who heads the C.R.A. Board, admits the change wasn't a good move.

"Looking back I wouldn't have made that decision based on what I know now. But the C.R.A. had the best of intentioned and it didn't work out," says Hay.

"I do believe they feel they made a mistake with that decision but they were looking out for the city and didn't realize the repercussions," says Poag.

Tuesday night the C.R.A. agreed to allow Erica and two other homeowners to short sale their homes, and pay back their grant money at just pennies on the dollar. Erica says she's pleased with that decision, but it's hard even for her , to pinpoint how much money she's lost.

"If you think about the mortgage interest, the taxes I've paid, with no equity in the home and being underwater... my home is worth one-third of what I paid for it," says Poag.

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