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UniverCity Program Buys 14 Homes, Builds Community

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The UniverCity Neighborhood Partnership gets $50,000 to take a former college party house "with probably close to 1,000 beer cans in the basement" and turn it into something beautiful.

With newly refurbished hardwood floors, new wiring and an overall facelift, the house at 416 S. Governor Street is well on its way.

The house is the 30th renovation that the program has completed since it started in 2010. Using state and local funds, UniverCity will buy 14 more houses this year.

"We're really trying to encourage people to live close to work and close to downtown," said Community Development Coordinator Steve Long.

People like Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz, who lives in a UniverCity home just down the street.

"I love my house," she said. "It just gives back every day (when) I wake up. I just love that house."

Fixmer-Oraiz said the program doesn't just fix up houses, it makes the community a better place to live, too. She likes that the city is working to build affordable homes, without getting rid of apartments and college housing.

"It feels like that diversity is there, and it's important," Fixmer-Oraiz said.

Important, too, because housing rehabilitation specialist David Powers said, local landlords wouldn't necessarily spend the money to fix up the buildings. But the program does, simultaneously stimulating the local economy, working with contractors and buying supplies.

It's all about striking that university/city balance, he said.

"You can't have one or the other completely, or else it just becomes a problem. It works out very well," Powers said.

Find out more about UniverCity, including how to  buy a home, here.
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