Govt. Needs to Help Affected Communities in Current Housing Crises, Enterprise Community CEO Testifies Before Senate

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorWashington, D.C–Doris W. Koo, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, a provider of development capital and expertise to affordable homes, testified this week before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on the housing crises and its effects on communities across the U.S.In her hearing titled “Strengthening our Economy: Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Preservation,” Koo called on Congress to invest in stabilizing low- and moderate-income communities that have been disproportionately impacted by rising numbers of foreclosures while simultaneously stimulating the American economy.Koo was part of a four-person panel selected to represent perspectives of people and communities affected by the housing downturn.“We chose to focus on the silent victims of this crises. There are huge inventories of vacant homes due to foreclosures and they are badly affecting neighborhoods, thereby reducing values of homes of other people living there,” Koo tells MHN.“Our goal in providing this testimony was to put forward some big ideas. And even though we do not have the operational aspects of the ideas, the aim is to start thinking and arrive at some solutions,” says Koo.In her statement, Koo said, “we are concerned about the health and stability of many low- and moderate-income communities that will face large concentrations of foreclosed properties. Without strategic federal intervention and resource deployment, these foreclosed properties will destabilize communities, erode tax bases and bring down property values of neighboring homes. This will undermine decades of progress in impacted neighborhoods by furthering a cycle of abandonment and disinvestment.”In her testimony, Koo outlined a proposal for a Neighborhood Stabilization Fund jointly developed by Enterprise and the Center for American Progress. “We need Congress to authorize flexible funds that can be quickly deployed to areas facing collapsing home prices. The homes that cannot be sold need to be taken down, so that they are not used for illegal and illicit activities,” Koo tells MHN.The Neighborhood Stabilization Fund would provide much-needed immediate and flexible capital to put troubled real estate-owned properties in the hands of local agencies, nonprofit entities and responsible, socially-motivated entrepreneurs whose mission and interests are to preserve neighborhood viability.