Communities that have been hit hard by foreclosures are looking for help from the newly created Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which makes available $3.92 billion for local governments to buy vacant and foreclosed homes for demolition or reconstruction and resale. To make sure cities are using the money most effectively, the Washington-based National League of Cities (NLC) is offering the services of its U.S. Communities Government Purchasing Alliance.

NSP, which was part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, is an extension of the Community Development Block Grant program. Communities that submitted applications for NSP grants to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Dec. 1 will have 18 months to obligate the funds, and NLC says its purchasing alliance will save grant recipients time by avoiding the need to enter individual bids for goods and services. The alliance has an agreement with Atlanta-based Home Depot to sell maintenance, repair and operating supplies to alliance members at preapproved prices.

Cities must be members of the purchasing alliance to qualify for the program, but membership is free. Register on U.S. Communities' Web site.

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