Cities Repair Foreclosure Properties for Low-Income Families

by Peter Vernon on cities

Neighborhoods devastated by foreclosure properties across the country are being rehabilitated by cities with money provided to cities under President Obama’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Riverside County, among areas hardest hit by foreclosures, has started using over $6.5 million in NSP funds in buying abandoned foreclosed homes, repairing them and then selling them to first-time homebuyers.

Eva Yakutis, the neighborhood and housing director of Riverside, said her agency is hands-on with the city’s neighborhood rehabilitation project. Her agency is doing the purchase of foreclosure properties, supervising the repair and supervising the sale.

In the first quarter this year, 1 house in every 27 housing units in Riverside has been hit with a foreclosure filing. In the same period, about 28,000 homeowners received notices of default, an increase of 35 percent from the first quarter of 2008.

Riverside is one of two Inland Empire counties, together with San Bernardino, battered with large numbers of foreclosure properties as the housing crisis deepened. Currently, there are about 4,000 foreclosed homes in Riverside and about 8,000 units of Riverside’s total of 60,000 housing units are at risk of foreclosure.

To prevent the NSP from being taken advantage of by speculators, Riverside officials are restricting home buyers to families with a total income of not higher than $74,000.

Similarly, Chicago has started its NSP program by choosing foreclosure properties that could make the most significant impact to neighborhoods when repaired and sold to lower-income families.

Chicago city spokesperson Molly Sullivan said the city’s NSP program will rehabilitate about 2,500 foreclosure homes for sale over the next 3 to 5 years.

Chicago officials will limit buyers to families whose incomes are lower than 120 percent of Chicago’s median income.

In the Arizona city of Glendale, local officials will use a big part of their NSP money to repair foreclosed homes and assist lower-income buyers. They will also find foreclosure properties that can be converted into rental housing for the elderly.

In Avondale, just outside Phoenix, community officials will use their NSP funds to help lower-income households to buy foreclosure properties by providing them with down payments, payments for closing fees and money for repairs.

Avondale spokesperson Gina Ramos Montes expressed her hope that the subdivisions battered with foreclosure properties will be rejuvenated by the entry of homeowners who are committed to look after the good of the neighborhoods.

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