Foreclosure Response and Neighborhood Preservation
While public attention to the foreclosure crisis has ebbed and flowed over the last four years, the foreclosure crisis has continued to grow and the need for intervention remains great. In Bay Area communities such as Antioch and Richmond, foreclosure rates have improved slightly over the past year, but still remain above historical norms, with one in every 164 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in Antioch and one in every 540 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in Richmond during January 20141. Oakland’s foreclosure rate in January 2014 stood at 1 in every 1571 housing units down from 1 in 350 in June 20122.3 The impact of all this foreclosure activity on communities is all too well known: neighborhoods falling into disrepair, tenants evicted as landlords default, declines in property tax revenues forcing cuts to critical services, and the overall health, stability, and economic future of families being severely affected. The foreclosure crisis has been particularly devastating for low- to moderate-income families, especially people of color and immigrants. The Center for Responsible Lending reports that these populations were disproportionately targeted for subprime loans, and that Latino and African American borrowers experience foreclosures at twice the rate of non-Hispanic white homeowners4. All told, seven of the nation’s 10 hardest-hit cities by foreclosure rate in 2011 were located in California, with more than one million homes lost to foreclosure between 2008 and 2011— and an additional 700,000 currently in the foreclosure pipeline5. To address this disproportionate concentration of foreclosures, the state legislature passed the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 11, 2012. This first-in-the-nation legislation provides a variety of provisions to assist homeowners facing foreclosure, including requiring mortgage servicers to render decisions on loan modification applications before advancing the foreclosure process, designating a “single point of contact” for borrowers who are potentially eligible for federal or proprietary loan modifications; and providing homeowners with a “private right of action” that allows them to sue servicers who do not abide by these rules. Borrowers also have authority to seek redress of “material” violations of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights; and the recording and filing of multiple unverified documents by mortgage servicers will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $7,500 per loan5. While this legislation is a major step forward in helping to level the playing field between homeowners and mortgage servicers, it is clear that the foreclosure crisis is far from over, and focus must now be kept on ensuring consistent implementation of these vital consumer protections. A relatively new phenomenon affecting the disposition of bank real estate owned (REO) properties is the entry of large investor pools of capital into the foreclosed property acquisition arena. The investors are purchasing the REO properties and converting them into rental, bundling the rental agreements and selling them on the secondary market, with some paper currently rated by Moody as AA+. In Atlanta, investors have purchased 1,400 homes in a single day. The impact of these investor pool purchases of large quantities of properties on the availability of affordable homeownership and affordable rents is only beginning to be measured and analyzed. How this will ultimately affect affordable home and rental pricing and changes in neighborhood composition are unknown but need to be examined for its potential impact on vulnerable communities and populations. In response to this economic and legislative landscape, the Foreclosure Response and Neighborhood Preservation Priority grantmaking program supports projects and initiatives that help families avoid displacement, protect family and community assets, and preserve and stabilize neighborhoods. 1 http://www.realtytrac.com/trendcenter 2 http://www.realtytrac.com/trendcenter/ca/oakland-trend.html 3 RealtyTrac foreclosure statistics combine data on notice of defaults, foreclosure auction, and bank repossession. 4 Debbie Gruenstein Bocian, Peter Smith, Ginna Green, Paul Leonard. Center for Responsible Lending, “Dreams Deferred: Impacts and Characteristics of the California Foreclosure Crisis.” August 2010. 5 State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General: http://oag.ca.gov/hbor.
Objective One: Foreclosure response and asset preservation To prevent foreclosure displacement and preserve wealth in lower-income and communities of color by supporting efforts that help families and individuals stay housed and avoid or recover from foreclosure. Strategies will support efforts to:
- Provide direct foreclosure prevention, mitigation, and recovery services including mortgage counseling, legal assistance, family support services, financial education, credit repair and information and referral for both renters and homeowners.
- Coordinate and integrate foreclosure mitigation programs; raise awareness of the effects on foreclosure on health, community safety, and family well-being; and address the disparate impact of foreclosures on people of color, children and youth, special needs populations, and immigrants.
- Promote safe and responsible homeownership and asset-building through pre and post purchase counseling and education and access to fair lending products.
- Provide assistance to renters who have been directly or indirectly impacted by foreclosures, by supporting tenant education, services, and advocacy, and direct assistance to displaced tenants of foreclosed properties.
- Highlight the successes, challenges and systemic issues preventing satisfactory resolution for homeowners facing foreclosure.
- Support policy advocacy for financial institution accountability, tenant protections, and foreclosure mitigation, including disbursement of California’s National Mortgage Settlement Fund and implementation and enforcement of the Homeownership Bill of Rights, the California Keep Your Home Program, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Objective Two: Neighborhood stabilization and innovation To support the rehabilitation and reuse of foreclosed homes, encourage reinvestment in hard-hit communities, preserve existing affordable housing, and expand innovative housing options for lower-income populations. Strategies will support efforts that:
- Promote neighborhood stabilization efforts including acquisition and rehabilitation of foreclosed homes and rental buildings as affordable properties.
- Improve affordability, habitability, and sustainability of existing affordable homes through weatherization and energy efficiency retrofits.
- Promote and scale alternative models of housing as a response to foreclosure, including cooperative and community wealth-building strategies such as shared housing, limited-equity housing, and community land trusts.
- Support policy and advocacy that promotes innovation, collaboration, and increased resources for housing preservation, rehabilitation, and retrofitting, and for neighborhood stabilization.
Particular consideration will be given to programs and organizations that:
- Target and reach lower-income communities, communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and other populations that have borne the disparate burden of discriminatory practices and disinvestment.
- Reflect a high degree of collaboration and integration with other nonprofits, public entities, and the private sector to develop collaborative frameworks to help service providers, advocates and community residents stay informed about changes in assistance programs and regulations, communicate the hardship of foreclosures on residents and communities and help document the impact of community-based organizations to policy makers, financial institutions, donors and the public.
- Track and analyze data and trends on the disposition of REO properties and the impact of large investor REO purchases on compliance with the Homeowners Bill of Rights, renters, neighborhoods, and public policy.
This priority area is not intended to fund:
- Services and programs meant to assist individuals in immediate crisis or facing homelessness (see our Safety Net grantmaking program).
- Emergency housing or short term homeless shelter (see our Safety Net grantmaking program).
- Ongoing efforts to produce new units of affordable rental housing (see our Community Development program area).
Please note that is not an open call for proposals. Only invited organizations may apply. Grants will range from $25,000 to $35,000. In order to be considered for funding, invited organizations must submit a full grant proposal and all of the requested materials through Grantee Center.
Deadline: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 11:59PM Notification: May 2014 Grant Start Date: June 30, 2014