David Torrey, 2, plays with a plastic truck in his family's new house in Fenton. Their father, Jonathan Torrey, sits with his wife, Becky Torrey, and their newborn, Patty Sue, on the sofa. Thomas Torrey, 5, says he can do a back flip, quickly demonstrating. His parents laugh and tell him it was a front flip.
"I can do a back flip too," Thomas said.
The family has more room to spread out after buying a house through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). It's the first time the family has owned a home, but it's the house Jonathon grew up in.
Jonathan Torrey's family owned the house for 70 years, until about 10 years ago. A different family bought it, and the house eventually went into foreclosure.
The city of Fenton purchased it, using federal NSP grant money. The money is channeled through Genesee County, and the federal government is allocating it so communities can fix up vacant homes and help new families move into them. There are requirements for the purchasers, including income.
The family moved in on Valentine's Day, Becky Torrey said.
"We celebrated the whole day with our kids, right there at the house," Torrey said. "We were really excited, especially since the house itself was the house my husband had grown up in."
Having their own house is much different from being in an apartment, the family said.
"We don't have people walking on the floors above us," Becky said.
In Fenton, houses are brought up to city and state codes. After rehabilitation, the Fenton city government resells the house.
"They weren't allowed to make a profit," Jonathan said.
NSP is a good program for a first-time homebuyer, Becky said. For example, because the house was rehabilitated and brought up to code, they didn't need to worry about unexpected repairs.
"It looked like a new house inside," she said. "It was move-in ready. It's a Michigan basement, and it was swept clean. "You feel more confident that it has nothing wrong with it."
Jonathan said he noticed changes in the house from when his family owned it — new cabinets in the kitchen, different bathroom countertops and a new tub, new flooring and carpet and paint. His father, Jim Torrey, of Grand Rapids and married to Jonathan's stepmother, Sue, grew up there. So, Jonathan and Becky Torrey know when their home's electrical work took place, when water heater was new, etc.
"It helped to know the history," Jonathan said.
In addition, to qualify, the prospective homeowners must attend at least eight hours of homeownership counseling. Part of the class covered how to write checks, and how to spell numbers on the checks when writing them out, she said.
So far, Fenton has sold two rehabilitated NSP houses — the Torreys' home on Center Street and a house on West Street, said City Assessor Tonya Molloseau. In addition, there are three more houses Fenton has purchased that will be rehabilitated soon.
These are all part of the original NSP, and the city has received approval for another phase of the program, Molloseau said.
Jonathan and Becky Torrey, who both transferred to and graduated from Eastern Michigan University, had been living in apartments in Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti and Fenton. Then the couple lived for a year with Becky's parents, Harvey and Patricia Archer, who live in the Hartland school district.
"My parents were gracious enough to let us come live with them. We were able to save enough for this house," Becky said.
Their sons like playing in the yard, and Becky Torrey's sister planted her some flowers. Jonathan's mother, Laurie Torrey, lives in Linden, and Becky Torrey's parents are in the Fenton area.
"It's close to family in general," Becky said.
For more information on purchasing an NSP house in Fenton, contact Realtor Kelli Bowlby at (810) 240-8522.