Cross-Industry Campaign Aims to Provide $4B to Help Communities Affected by Foreclosures

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorColumbia, Md.–A group of cross-industry organizations, including Enterprise Community Partners, Low Income Investment Fund and National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, have come together to form the “Save America’s Neighborhoods” campaign. The campaign is urging Congress to include a provision for a minimum of $4 billion in emergency grants in the upcoming Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which the Senate is expected to vote on next week.The $4 billion emergency funding would be used to facilitate the bulk purchase and rehabilitation of foreclosed homes in targeted areas. In turn, this would help stabilize communities, create rental and ownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income families and stop the cycle of disinvestment.“The foreclosure crisis is affecting all types of properties as property prices drop in communities across the country,” Alazne (Ali) Solis (pictured), vice president of public policy at Enterprise, tells MHN. “This money will go toward helping multifamily communities as well as single-family communities. We would like that decision to be taken locally, based on where there is a need. For example, in Miami, I would expect the money to be used for helping condo communities.”Solis also says that while in parts of the country and in some segments, multifamily housing is doing well, the worst of the crisis is yet to hit. “Multifamily will not be spared the damage,” she says.According to a recent poll conducted by the Save America’s Neighborhoods campaign, 75 percent of voters surveyed said Congress should act now to address this problem. Two-thirds of those surveyed are also in favor of Congress providing a one-time grant to help stabilize neighborhoods with heavy concentrations of foreclosed homes.The campaign surveyed 1,008 adults, including 844 registered voters, regarding the impacts that vacant foreclosed properties have on communities.The campaign recently launched its Web Site, to provide information to concerned organizations, businesses and individuals on how to join this effort. The foreclosure crisis threatens low- and moderate-income communities that will become plagued with concentrations of foreclosed properties, known as “real estate owned” properties or REOs, which lenders and investors will be unable to sell in the next few years, according to Enterprise.The legislation still needs to pass the Senate and the House, and President Bush has already threatened to veto against it.