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UniverCity Program Growing

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- Darian Nagle-Gamm and her husband Jeremy always wanted to live in an older house, close to downtown. So when the UniverCity Neighborhood Partnership put a big red house on Governor Street on the market, they jumped at the chance.

"I think it looks beautiful. I think they did a great job. The floors are just gorgeously refinished, the kitchen looks great, the bathrooms look fantastic, they did such a great job," said Nagle-Gamm.

The UniverCity partnership spent about $55,000 remodeling the house that used to be a rental for college students, so that a family like the Nagle-Gamms would want to move in.

"It's tipping the balance back in some neighborhoods to close campus," Nagle-Gamm said. "Well, maybe not tipping completely back to single families, but it's making it more of a mix."

Creating that mix is a long-term goal for the city, and it's willing to spend the money to make that happen. All a family has to do is stay in a program house for five years, and the city will forgive their loan.

"It's the interest of the city to stabilize these neighborhoods. To make sure that they retain a balance between owner-occupied and rentals. It just promotes a much more healthy neighborhood and healthy balance," said housing rehab specialist Dave Powers.

And the city has been restoring houses all over town. Powers helps to make a lot of the decisions about how the houses will look. He says the program is actually making a tangible difference.

"It's a dream job, really. It's very rewarding. We've had neighborhoods, this is one of them, where we've done multiple properties, and really seen a change in the character of the area," Powers said.

That change means families like the Nagle-Gamms won't be looking for a new house any time soon.

"I think we're going to be here for a long time," Nagle-Gamm said.

The city is purchasing 16 more homes for the next phase of redesigns. They will become available for purchase within the coming months.
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