Elizabeth Femal is unpacked but still trying to get her new home organized -- and filled. She said the living room and dining room still need furniture and she could use some more items for decorating.
The 34-year-old woman, most recently of Arlington Heights, became the first buyer of one of Elgin's Neighborhood Stabilization Program homes. The city got about $2.2 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the 2008 stimulus act.
Elgin spent $250,000 on Femal's house at 162 Summit St. to buy it and finish the rehabilitation before selling it for $110,000.
Though the program has drawn criticism by some because of the money spent to fix up the homes, Assistant City Manager Rick Kozal said the program has functioned as it was intended.
"We rehabilitated what the private market wouldn't in an effort to stabilize these neighborhoods," Kozal said. "The fact that this has been fixed up and sold, that's a success."
Femal had to take a first-time homebuyer class before the sale closed and she had to meet income requirements set by the federal government.
She said she was drawn to the pool of historic homes in Elgin and likes her Summit Street location for its proximity to the Hemmens Cultural Center, Gail Borden Public Library and train lines.
"I am slowly but surely unpacking and definitely excited to be moved in," Femal said.
Elgin has three other homes for sale that it rehabbed over the last two years. One at 318 South St., and two in the 400 block of East Chicago Street.
Two other properties, one on Franklin Street and one on Jewett Street, are purchased but awaiting an evaluation for the next steps.
Elgin senior planner Sarosh Saher said income from the sale of the first four homes will cover the costs of acting on the remaining two. Saher said an evaluation will decide the scope of work -- whether it's new construction, rehabilitation or demolition.
Elgin purchased four other homes with the federal money and turned them over to Habitat for Humanity of the Northern Fox Valley. Three of those have been sold, according to Bill Klaves, development director for the organization.
The fourth home, at 355 Moseley St., is taking longer than expected but should be ready to move in by March.
Unlike the city's program, Habitat lines up buyers before the work on the house begins. The future homeowner puts in at least 250 hours of work on the house with the rest of the volunteers.
"When the house is complete, they're preapproved and prequalified and helped build their own house," Klaves said. Femal loves her new home -- the wood floors, the multicolored paint on the exterior, the small and manageable backyard. She said she is steadily putting down roots in the community with new memberships at a local church and the library. And she is happy to have purchased through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
"I think it's a wonderful program and it makes it affordable for first-time homebuyers," she said.