FORT WORTH -- Fort Worth is marking a milestone in efforts to pump life into a long-neglected Fort Worth neighborhood.
On Tuesday, new residents and city officials celebrated the grand opening of Terrell Homes. It's in a historically African American community just southeast of downtown.
One of the new residents is Susan Jackson.
"I am blessed. I feel really blessed," she said with a smile, and occasional tear.
She showed News 8 around her house. It's a handsome two-story, painted a soft green. She decorates with spiritual art, including a large photo of her son with hands clasped in prayer.
Jackson feels resurrected.
"I lost my home two years ago when I lost my job," she said. "So this is like giving me a second chance."
Jackson and her son just moved into the newly built, three-bedroom house on East Stella Street. Kaci Smith and her two children moved in next door.
"This has given me a chance to get back into a house and a lifestyle I'm used to," Smith said.
The City of Fort Worth teamed with a private developer to build 54 homes just southeast of downtown. Federal tax credits provided the incentive for bank financing. Rent runs about $800 to $1,000 a month.
But after 15 years, residents can buy the homes for residual value.
"These houses will end up being sold to residents for $40-, $50-, $60-thousand-dollars," said Daniel Markson, VP of development for the NRP Group. He said in 15 years, he'd find it "hard to believe that in this location these houses aren't worth $150,000 or more."
There are still about 250 vacant lots in the area, dragging down property values.
"There's going to be a tipping point here, where there's enough houses that vacant lots will be taken up by market-rate builders and sold," Markson said. "I'm not sure this is the tipping point yet."
Although the federal program that allowed the Terrell Homes partnership has ended, city officials say the government will continue to spur home building.
"The hope is that within 10 years, there will be very few vacant lots in the neighborhood," said Jay Chapa, Fort Worth director of housing and economic development. "In the spring, we'll start building homes for sale on the south end of this neighborhood. The plan is to start with two or three houses built for sale. As those sell, we'll build more."
Chapa said all but eight houses in the Terrell Homes development have been rented. Half are already occupied, infusing a poor and aging community with young new families on the way up.