Photograph by Brett W. And four years into the crisis, government officials have been unable to effectively deal with the extensive blight in communities afflicted with high rates of foreclosure.
Foreclosure nation :mortgaging the American dream /Shari B. Olefson. – National Library
Foreclosed calls into question the American Dream of home ownership and the way it was packaged and sold in the form of a single-family house in the suburbs. It ties the current foreclosure crisis to unsustainable trends in housing and planning that go back to the days of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Broadacre City.
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The exhibition also demonstrates how prevailing models for suburban development are not only environmentally unsustainable, but also financially unsound. The keynote speech for the exhibition, delivered by U. Donovan told the audience that the foreclosure crisis disproportionately hit low- income and minority households in the suburbs. He noted how in some of these communities the majority of people receiving mortgages during the housing bubble were given subprime loans when many of them qualified for prime ones.
And he cited a study that showed that Latinos in this country lost two-thirds of their wealth between and In addition to dashing the hopes and aspirations of millions of homeowners, the housing bubble left the country with scars on its landscape in the form of decaying suburban subdivisions.
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And where was the planning profession during the housing bubble? Now many of the low-income people who bought at the height of the bubble owe more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. And instead of helping people build equity and offering a chance at middle-class life, home ownership actually has reduced social mobility by turning our most vulnerable citizens into debt slaves with ruined credit histories. So what are we to do about the blighted suburbs littered throughout the country in the wake of the foreclosure crisis? The Foreclosed exhibition presents the work of five multidisciplinary teams headed by architects who were tasked to develop alternative visions for suburbia.
The teams were then sent out into the field to develop plans for real places.
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The sites that were chosen ranged from a failed subdivision in Rialto, California, to the rustbelt town of Cicero, Illinois. The different teams worked to design site-specific plans with input from local communities, but what unified them was the way they aimed to make their sites at once both self-sufficient and better connected to their broader metropolitan regions. To that end, the different models included infrastructure such as light rail, co-generation electrical plants, recycling centers, and gardens to enable people to grow their own food.
Some plans included light industrial facilities and workspaces adjacent to residential areas so people would not have to endure long automobile commutes to get to work. Banks and servicers should make good faith efforts to prevent foreclosures. This includes identifying and contacting at-risk borrowers as soon as possible, as well as modifying loans to the extent their legal obligations allow.
They should systematically conduct Net Present Value NPV analyses, which determine whether investors profit more from a loan modification or a foreclosure. Grant temporary foreclosure stays. By delaying the foreclosure process, the bank can better evaluate whether foreclosure is necessary, and give borrowers time to get their finances in order, seek counseling, and work with the bank to achieve a loan modification.
Responsibly maintain properties in foreclosure. Properties in foreclosure often fall into disrepair, harming neighborhood property values and public safety. The banks that own those properties after foreclosing on them must maintain them responsibly. Banks should keep the properties in good, safe condition, and should consider selling the properties at a fair price to community organizations and non-profits. Congress should move quickly to confirm Richard Cordray as the head of the CFPB, a new agency intended to serve as a watchdog for consumer protections.
Counseling programs help potential and current homeowners attain the financial literacy they need to navigate complex mortgage transactions, make their payments, and save for the future. Counseling has been found extremely effective in helping borrowers, but more resources are needed. Strengthen Community Development Programs: Existing community development programs need to be strengthened to effectively stabilize communities. For example, Congress should authorize additional funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program NSP , a program run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development that focuses on the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed and abandoned homes and residential properties.
Renters in foreclosed properties are protected from eviction by the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act PTFA , but the Act is due to expire in and is not uniformly enforced. The PTFA needs to be made permanent and strengthened. This includes enhancing enforcement of its protections, informing tenants about their rights under the law, and providing a private cause of action so tenants can protect themselves in court.
HAMP is intended to help eligible homeowners modify their mortgages, to make payments more affordable and avoid default. But it needs improvements to work effectively. Treasury should adjust its modification programs to make them work for borrowers, including giving homeowners an appeals process for modification denials; requiring banks and servicers to provide clear data on modification denials; and penalizing servicers proven to have violated HAMP rules, including failure to conduct NPV analyses which determine whether investors profit more from a loan modification or a foreclosure.
Foreclosure Nation : Mortgaging the American Dream by Shari B. Olefson (2008, Paperback)
Mortgage servicers act as the managers of mortgage loans, collecting payments which they forward to the mortgage owner, and conducting the foreclosure process. Despite their important role in the process, servicers still lack comprehensive guidelines and incentives that would move them towards fair, transparent service and avoiding foreclosures where possible.
Despite the progress made during the 20th century in promoting fair housing, communities of color continue to experience much higher levels of predatory and subprime lending and discrimination in accessing quality, affordable housing near good schools and other opportunities. Yet the Treasury Department has no civil rights regulations and has neglected fair housing enforcement, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development HUD has failed to provide needed guidance on affirmatively furthering fair housing. Treasury and HUD must act immediately to issue clear rules and ensure equal opportunity throughout the U.
Improve Access to Legal Assistance and Mediation: