Thursday, September 10, 2009

National Collaboration Turns Foreclosures Into Opportunities

In an unprecedented move, leaders from the nonprofit sector, philanthropic community, financial industry and government have joined forces in creating a highly innovative and effective approach to reclaim neighborhoods devastated by high concentrations of foreclosed and abandoned property.

The National Community Stabilization Trust (“Stabilization Trust”), a new nonprofit organization, will help re-knit the fabric of neighborhoods torn apart by the high levels of foreclosed and abandoned property, property disinvestment, plummeting housing prices, and low resident confidence.

This is being accomplished by providing local government and local housing providers with two critical services that are currently missing to effectively stabilize neighborhoods – easy access to foreclosed properties and access to flexible financing to renovate these properties.

The Stabilization Trust will facilitate the transfer of foreclosed property from the many financial institutions that own or manage these properties to locally designated community housing providers who will renovate the housing for new homeowners and renters. This effort will help speed use of $6 billion in new federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program resources that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making available to localities and public-private partnerships.

Under the Stabilization Trust’s popular First Look program, cities and counties can get access to foreclosed homes before they are made available to the general market, resulting in a more predictable and cost effective neighborhood revitalization strategy.

“Communities need a straight-forward and streamlined way to acquire foreclosed and abandoned homes,” said Craig Nickerson, president of the National Community Stabilization Trust. “The Stabilization Trust’s First Look program puts the local housing providers in the driver’s seat, able to strategically decide which properties are most important to their neighborhood revitalization plans.”

More than 100 hard hit communities in 35 states across the country have already signed up for this free service from the Stabilization Trust, which is now making its services available to localities nationwide and putting thousands of properties in the hands of local housing providers.

Six leading nonprofit organizations – Enterprise Community Partners, Housing Partnership Network, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza, and NeighborWorks America – serve as the founding sponsors of the Stabilization Trust. They came together last year to form the new organization in the wake of the current housing crisis.

Funding from these organizations and from philanthropic leaders, including the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute and Heron Foundation have helped capitalize the nationwide operation. Many of the nation’s major financial institutions are working with the Stabilization Trust to convey foreclosed property, including Bank of America, Citi, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, GMAC, JP Morgan Chase, Nationstar, Saxon, Wells Fargo and others.


Massachusetts Teens Honored for Their Work in Foreclosure Prevention

Denise Peterson, a 19-year-old from Worcester, Mass., thought she would work in a secretarial role when she took a summer youth position with NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Worcester. Instead, she was trained in personal finance and budgeting, sustainable homeownership and foreclosure prevention. She then used that newfound knowledge to help homeowners struggling to meet their mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes.

Peterson was one of three teenagers who served as summer youth workers at the center, through a collaboration of the center, the Oak Hill Community Development Corp., the Worcester Community Action Council and Worcester Credit Union. The three were honored for their service on September 8, during a visit by U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern. "Some come here because they’re afraid of losing their homes," McGovern said. "This organization is a model to the nation in how to involve young people in community service. Their work here has resulted in families keeping their homes." Read more about it in the