Thursday, February 26, 2009

MacArthur Foundation Announces $32.5 Million in Investments to Preserve Affordable Rental Housing in 12 States and Cities

Today the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced that it is awarding $32.5 million in new grants and low-cost loans to 12 states and cities to help preserve more than 70,000 affordable rental homes for families across the nation. This significant investment is part of the Foundation’s new Window of Opportunity initiative, a $150 million, 10-year effort to preserve affordable rental homes. Selected from among 40 states and local governments, the recipients of these prestigious awards will use the funds from the Foundation – $9.5 million in grants and an additional $23 million in low-interest loans – to, among other activities, help preserve subsidized rental homes at-risk of being lost, help different levels of government coordinate their efforts in order to ensure the preservation of affordable rental homes, and leverage an additional $147 million in funding.

Please join us in congratulating the new grantees – Denver, Florida, Iowa, Los Angeles, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont – who are receiving funding from the Foundation. In light of the foreclosure crisis and the ever-growing demand for rental housing, these jurisdictions are to be commended for their forward-thinking approaches to preserving rental housing for generations to come. From rural rental housing preservation for families in Iowa to senior rental housing preservation in Florida, each jurisdiction will use the money to uniquely benefit its residents, families and communities.

Given the fact that it generally costs twice as much to build an affordable home as to preserve one, efforts by these states and cities to preserve affordable housing are critically important and serve as a model for other jurisdictions nationwide.

To learn more about the specific projects that will be implemented by each of the grantees, please click on the individual state and city names below:

Denver

Florida

Iowa

Los Angeles

Maryland

Massachusetts

Minnesota

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Oregon

Washington

Vermont

In addition, NHC will partner with the Foundation to host a rental preservation symposium on March 17 in Washington, DC, which will also highlight the innovative work of these new grantees. The symposium is entitled “Partners in Innovation: A Dialogue on Federal, State, and Local Rental Preservation Solutions” and will feature a series of plenary discussions with panelists from each of the 12 cities and states, followed by a reception. Keynote speakers at the symposium will include Jonathan Fanton, president of the Foundation, and Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) will give remarks at the reception. Participation in this symposium is by invitation only. For more information, please contact NHC Director of State and Local Initiatives Lynn Ross.

To learn more about today’s MacArthur Foundation announcement, please Click Here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In Address to Joint Session of Congress, Obama Offers Hope for the Economy

Last night, President Obama gave his first address to a joint session of Congress, discussing everything from the economy and education, to health care and national security. In his speech, Obama spoke about the hope that both the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" and the "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan" will bring Americans. Regarding the Administration's plan keep people in their homes, Obama said:

We have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages.

It's a plan that won't help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values, Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped to bring about. In fact, the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.

You can view the entire transcript of his speech here. To view a portion of this address, please watch the video below.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

NHC Releases Statement on New Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan

NHC released the following statement earlier today commending the Administration for the creation of the "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan."

Statement by Conrad Egan

President and CEO of the National Housing Conference

Prepared in Response to the Administration’s
New Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan

“We commend the Administration for the ambitious multi-pronged approach it is taking to address the ongoing foreclosure crisis through the Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan announced yesterday. By offering a large assortment of 'carrots and sticks' to lenders and mortgage servicers, this plan could likely head off millions of foreclosures.

In particular, by offering incentives to servicers to lower monthly mortgage payments to a level that homeowners can afford, and allowing others who owe more than their house is worth the ability to refinance, millions of responsible homeowners will have the opportunity to stabilize their families and communities.

Ensuring the liquidity of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is another positive element in the plan that helps build a stronger housing market in the near-term and increases housing affordability for America's families in the long-term.

We look forward to working with the Administration and Congress on the implementation of these and other measures that are focused on confronting the nation's housing crisis."


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Administration Announces Plans for Housing Rescue

Having survived its first month in office, the Administration has taken strong measures to restore the economy.

While Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announced the White House's Financial Stability Plan - which accounts for the administration of the second half of funding from the Troubled Asset Relief Program - late last week, the President signed the economic recovery package, H.R. 1 the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" into law yesterday afternoon while touring Denver, Colorado.

In just a few short hours, President Obama will be accompanied by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to reveal plans for the "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan."

According to this article in the Washington Post, one primary goal for this plan is to incentivize lenders, by using an assortment of "carrots and sticks," to assist homeowners nearing default on their mortgage payments.

To learn more about the "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan," check out this executive summary posted on the Treasury Department's Web-Site. The summary is accompanied by this press release, fact sheet and consumer Q&A.

An entry entitled "Help for Homeowners" that describes the "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan" is also available on the White House Blog.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Housing Solutions Week 2009" Begins Today, Providing Tools for Addressing the Foreclosure Crisis and Other Pressing Housing Needs

Hosted by NHC and its research affiliate the Center for Housing Policy, today is the first day of "Housing Solutions Week 2009" – a series of events focused on state and local strategies for responding to today’s critical housing challenges, with a particular emphasis on the foreclosure crisis.

See the calendar of events below for an overview of the week's activities:

Tuesday, February 17
Today marks the release of the first three research briefs in a new series entitled Insights from Housing Policy Research, which focuses on the impacts of affordable housing on property values and children’s well-being, and the preservation of affordable rental housing.

Wednesday, February 18
The Center for Housing Policy, in partnership with KnowledgePlex, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and the Urban Institute, will launch Foreclosure-Response.org, a new online guide to foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization to help communities address pressing housing needs. A KnowledgePlex Expert Chat will be held Wednesday, February 18th at 1:30 p.m. EST to introduce this new resource.

Thursday, February 19
The Center for Housing Policy will launch the new HousingPolicy.org Discussion Forum, an online tool that will help users quickly and easily share ideas, innovations, and questions about housing policy. The Forum will be available through both HousingPolicy.org – the Center’s online guide to state and local housing solutions – and its new sister site, Foreclosure-Response.org. A KnowledgePlex Expert Chat will be held Thursday, February 18th at 1:30 p.m. EST to introduce this new resource.

For more information, please read the Press Release.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Congress Agrees to Economic Recovery Package

As noted in this article from the Washington Post, it appears that Congress has reached agreement on a $789 billion economic recovery package late yesterday afternoon.

The package is split into four pieces: aid to state and local governments; additional funding for "shovel ready" infrastructure projects; tax breaks for individuals and businesses; and investments in health care and alternative energy.

The "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" is intended to create 3.5 million jobs and help restore the economy by investing in communities. Check out this fact sheet to see a summary of the provisions included in this bill.

As you can see, the economic recovery package features many housing-related provisions including approximately $2 billion in funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

According to this article in the New York Times, both the House of Representatives and the Senate may vote as early as tomorrow, February 13.

The video below shows Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) announcing that agreement had been reached between House and Senate conferees and the Administration on the economic recovery package.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Statement Released on NSP Funding in Economic Recovery Package

The National Foreclosure Prevention Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force issued this press statement, urging Congress to include the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in the economic recovery package.

The Senate voted to approve it's version of H.R. 1, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" earlier today by a 61-37 vote.

The bill will now go into conference where a compromise must be found between Senate and House leadership.

You can also view the Task Force's statement below.


National Task Force of Concerned Organizations Urges Congress to
Add Neighborhood Stabilization Funding to the U.S. House and Senate Conference Committee Bill

“In 2008, approximately two million families faced the devastating impacts of foreclosure — and at least as many foreclosures are anticipated this year and next.

The members of the National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force believe it’s time to make immediate fixes to our housing infrastructure to create jobs now and get our communities back on track. The Task Force — a cross-industry group of nearly 100 local and national organizations concerned about the foreclosure crisis’ impacts on communities — encourages the addition of $4 billion to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) that will help state, county and city efforts to meet the overwhelming and growing need to rehabilitate vacant and foreclosed properties — providing thousands of new jobs for rehab contractors and home builders — and to resuscitate our communities.

Yet, the $2.25 billion slated to expand NSP was cut from the Senate version of the Act, further threatening our communities and their ability to recover from the foreclosure crisis. As a result, a “Dear Colleague” letter originated by Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity will be issued today sharing Members’ concerns and encouraging the House and Senate to add the NSP funding back into the conference bill, which will enable state and local governments to work with local nonprofits to acquire, construct and rehabilitate affordable housing and provide rental assistance to families in need.


Why is this NSP funding so critical?

- The NSP helps communities hit hardest by foreclosures gain desperately needed economic stability. Expending neighborhood stabilization funds will allow communities to purchase and rehabilitate an additional 80,000 vacant, often blighted properties. Those properties will pay approximately $132 million in property taxes annually and generate an additional $6.78 billion in economic activity nationwide. It also will save localities nearly $797 million in costs ranging from trash removal, grass cutting, and boarding up vacant properties to more serious problems of vandalism, increased property and personal crime rates and arson.

- The NSP expansion will generate immediate construction activity creating more than 63,000 high-quality jobs in skilled and unskilled trades. Most of the jobs will be generated in the low- and moderate-income neighborhoods where they are needed the most. Jobs created through NSP will provide permanent transformative skills and trades.

“The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is a vital tool that must continue to be available to local governments. This program clearly helps stimulate the economy by creating jobs, stabilizing neighborhoods in distress and generating tax revenue,” said Representative John Olver (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. “At a time when state and local budgets are under severe stress, we should be increasing the number of options available to our cities, not reducing them.”

“The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is essential for the repair of communities that have been ravaged by foreclosures,” said Representative Waters. “NSP funding enables neighborhoods with abandoned and foreclosed properties — especially minority and low-income neighborhoods — to prevent and recover from blight, increased crime, decreased safety and reduced property tax revenue.”

As the foreclosure crisis and larger economic crisis expand, families and the communities in which they live urgently need these resources to create solutions that will put them back on solid ground.

Let’s give America’s families and their neighborhoods the tools they need for a strong and lasting recovery.”

The following members have signed on to the above statement.

Alabama Multifamily Loan Consortium
CDFI Coalition
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (Massachusetts)
City of Bath, Maine
City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Consumer Federation of America
Diamond State Community Land Trust (Delaware)
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation (Minnesota)
Habitat for Humanity International
Housing Assistance Council
Housing Partnership Network
Interfaith Housing Alliance, Inc.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Los Angeles County (California)
Low Income Investment Fund
Mercy Housing
Miami –
Dade County (Florida)
National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations
National Association for County Community and Economic Development
National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders
National Association of Counties
National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials
National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies
National Community Land Trust Network
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Community Reinvestment Coalition
National Community Revitalization Alliance
National Council of La
Raza
National Housing Conference
National Housing Institute
National League of Cities
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National
NeighborWorks Association
National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness
National Urban League
National Vacant Properties Campaign
NCB Capital Impact
Neighborhood Lending Partners of Florida
New Jersey Community Capital
North Carolina Community Development Initiative
Opportunity Finance Network
Policy Link
Rebuilding Together
Sacramento Housing Alliance (California)
Self – Help
Sioux Empire Housing Partnership (South Dakota)
Smart Growth America
U.S. Conference of Mayors
Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development, Inc.




Monday, February 9, 2009

NHC Comparision Table Reflects Updated Information on Economic Recovery Package

As Congress moves towards resolution on H.R. 1 the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," NHC has completed a detailed table of the housing-related components included in this legislation.

Please note that this analysis uses information from the Senate version of H.R. 1 as agreed to on Friday, February 6. This version includes a bipartisan proposal sponsored by Senators Nelson (D-NE) and Collins (R-ME) that makes significant changes to the bill.

There will be a cloture vote for this amendment in the Senate later today, February 9.

The Senate will vote in relation to the Collins-Nelson Substitute amendment with a 60-vote threshold at noon, tomorrow, February 10. If the amendment is agreed to, the Senate will proceed to passage of the bill.

The Senate plans to vote on H.R. 1 no later than Tuesday, February 10.

As a result, NHC will continue to update this document accordingly.

Combined Housing and Transportation Costs Strain Workers Throughout Washington Metro Region, New Report

While a large portion of the region’s jobs are located in or near the District of Columbia, high housing costs force many people who work in or close to the nation’s capital to live further away from job centers so that they can afford housing. Although people may think they are saving money by living in more affordable housing further away from work, that is not necessarily the case.

According to a new publication released today by the Urban Land Institute Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing – in partnership with the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology – called Beltway Burden: The Combined Cost of Housing and Transportation in the Greater Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area, housing located far from transit and employment centers places a heavy financial strain on working families in the Washington, DC metropolitan region.

The report documents the challenges faced by working families in the area who are forced to “drive ‘till they qualify” for housing – that is, working families forced to incur higher transportation costs that eventually erode their housing cost savings. According to the report, an estimated 60 percent of households have either high housing cost burdens, high transportation cost burdens or both.

For more information, please read the Press Release and visit ULI's Web site.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Update on the Economic Recovery Package

While the Senate agreed to an $827 billion draft version of an economic recovery package Friday, February 6, this legislation has stark differences from the version approved of in the House of Representatives.

The most updated version of the Senate economic recovery package is available here. As you can see, the Senate version relies more heavily on tax cuts.

The Senate will likely vote on this package on Tuesday, February 10.

Meanwhile, the House-version of this bill, H.R. 1 the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act," includes more funding for programs.

Leadership from the House of Representatives are disappointed that the Senate version cut $40 billion in aid to states, including funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. This program was designed to help struggling communities deal with the ongoing foreclosure crisis.

Policymakers must reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 1 before an economic recovery package is finalized and sent to the Administration. As evidenced in this article in the New York Times, this task will be difficult.

As confirmed by this press release, the Treasury Department will spend most of tomorrow, February 9 working on economic recovery plans with the United States Senate - delaying the release of the Administration's plan for the second half of TARP funds in order to do so.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Funding for Housing Programs Face Major Cutbacks as Senate Nears Vote

As confirmed in this article in the New York Times, it appears that the Senate was able to find bipartisan agreement on an economic recovery package late Friday, February 6.

Both messages from the Administration and a recent study on the rising rate of unemployed released by the Department of Labor emphasize that the Senate must act quickly to pass a piece of legislation that will spur the economy and encourage job growth.

But in order to garner the sixty vote needed in the Senate to approve this package, H.R. 1 the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" now includes an amendment that will slash approximately $110 billion in program funding.

This large loss in funding includes many affordable housing programs such as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), which was designed to help communities hit most forcefully by the foreclosure crisis.

The Senate anticipates a vote on H.R.1 sometime tomorrow, February 8.

If it is passed in the Senate, the bill will enter conference and leadership from the House of Representatives and Senate must reach agreement on a final package. This task might be difficult, as suggested by this article in the Washington Post, because there are large differences between the version of H.R. 1 that passed in the House of Representatives without bipartisan support and the Senate version of the bill.

Policymakers still hope to find consensus on an economic recovery package so that it is delivered and signed by the White House next week.

Friday, February 6, 2009

LOW INCOME HOUSING FUNDING IN SENATE RECOVERY BILL IN JEOPARDY - Call Senators NOW

This just in...

Included in the list of cuts being negotiated by moderate Democratic and Republican Senators in H.R. 1 the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" are ALL of the funds in the bill for public housing ($5B), assisted housing ($3.5 billion) and HOME, including the funds reallocated a few days ago as gap filler for LIHTC projects, as well as very deep cuts in funding for other programs including the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

We believe it is urgent that Senators hear from constituents that these funds should not be cut.

Please let your networks know NOW.

You can use this link to contact your Senator.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Senate Continues to Debate Economic Recovery Package

While the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" last week on a near party-line vote of 244-118, it has become apparent that the United States Senate will have a more difficult time recruiting support for this legislation.

The Senate began debate earlier this week on H.R. 1, which was originally a $819 billion package aimed at stabilizing the economy and creating jobs.

This package continues to shift as policymakers offer amendments that could create a stimulus package ranging from a $421 billion plan introduced by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to a $900 billion package. Among many featured amendments includes a potential increase in the Home Buyer Tax Credit from $7500 to $15000.

Today's Wall Street Journal showcases an article that suggests additional possible solutions to the housing crisis and could be included in the economic recovery package.

Provisions aimed to repair the housing market collapse and support affordable housing seem popular among many policymakers; however, these measures are not as apparent as others in the recovery package itself.

Senator Kent Conrad (D -ND) has vocalized that he will not support a recovery package unless it includes a $50 billion program designed to help homeowners. Senator Conrad shares this opinion with many Senators including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who is quoted in this article in today's New York Times stating:

“Most people recognize that housing itself is at the root of the current economic downturn, we should fix this problem before we fix anything else.”

But as amendments continue to fly on - and off- the Senate floor, it is difficult to predict if and when the Senate will agree to a package, Congress will reach consensus and a completed economic recovery package will arrive at the White House.

As this article in the Washington Post suggests, many policymakers believe they have not created a bipartisan measure that could pass a vote in the Senate yet.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NHC Compiles NSP "Best Practices" Document

NHC has created this compilation in order to share a variety of best practices and tips among grantees for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). These examples are of successful NSP action proposal plans from State governments.

This document will be updated continuously as NHC receives additional information.

Please contact NHC's Director of Policy, Sharon Price, at sprice@nhc.org if you would like to share your NSP action proposal plan.

Task Force Urges Senate to Keep NSP Funding in Economic Recovery Package

The National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force sent a Sign-On letter to the United States Senate earlier today, urging policymakers to keep funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program in H.R. 1, the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

Use this link to access the task force's Sign-On letter or read it below.


February 3, 2009

Dear Senators:

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is a vital tool that provides economic stability to communities suffering from high rates of foreclosure. With approximately 2 million foreclosures across the country in 2008 and more than 2 million expected in each 2009 and 2010, additional funds that can quickly get our communities back on track are needed now more than ever.

We ask that no less than $2.25 billion for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program be included in H.R. 1 to help state, county and city efforts to meet the overwhelming and growing need to rehabilitate vacant and foreclosed properties and to resuscitate our communities.

Thanks to the funding provided in the HERA bill, many communities across the country have already created partnerships amongst the state, local, for-profit and non-profit levels and are bringing vacant foreclosed properties and the surrounding areas back to life. While those funds already appropriated will help jurisdictions rehabilitate approximately 90,000 properties, there are an additional 90,000 properties that fall into foreclosure every single month. These foreclosure numbers will only continue to grow.

We estimate that this funding will help communities hit hard by foreclosures to purchase and rehabilitate an additional 57,000 properties. Those properties will:

  • Create more than 45,000 jobs
  • Pay approximately $94 million in property taxes annually
  • Generate an additional $4.83 billion in economic activity nationwide; and
  • Save localities nearly $568 million in costs ranging from trash removal, grass cutting, and boarding up vacant properties to more serious problems of vandalism, increased property and personal crime rates and arson.

In addition, H.R. 1 includes tenant protection language that would extend the amount of time before an owner may require tenants to vacate if they are living in a foreclosed property that has been purchased with NSP funds. The inclusion of this language in the Senate version of H.R. 1 is crucial and would protect many working families from abrupt and unanticipated eviction and could potentially diminish the expected increase in homelessness in many communities.

As the foreclosure crisis and larger economic crisis expand, families and the communities in which they live urgently need these resources to create solutions that will put them back on solid ground.

Sincerely,

National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force

The following members have signed on to the above letter

Center for American Progress Action Fund
City of Bath, Maine
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation (Minnesota)
Habitat for Humanity International
Housing Assistance Council
Housing Partnership Network
Interfaith Housing Alliance, Inc.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Low Income Investment Fund
Mercy Housing
Miami – Dade County
National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations
National Association for County Community and Economic Development
National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders
National Association of Counties
National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies
National Community Land Trust Network
National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
National Community Reinvestment Coalition
National Council of La Raza
National Housing Conference
National Housing Institute
National League of Cities
National Low Income Housing Coalition
National NeighborWorks Association
National Vacant Properties Campaign
NCB Capital Impact
New Jersey Community Capital
North Carolina Community Development Initiative
Policy Link
Rebuilding Together
Self – Help
Sioux Empire Housing Partnership
Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development, Inc.

Monday, February 2, 2009

NHC, Among Many Housing Organizations, Defends Neighborhood Stabilization Program

On Sunday, January 25 the Washington Post printed an article entitled "Priming the Pump" that criticizes the inclusion of funding for many spending program in the upcoming economic recovery package.

Specifically, this article questions Congress for providing additional program funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), arguing that this program gives lenders an "incentive to foreclose."


NHC working alongside Enterprise Community Partners and NeighborWorks America as members of the National Foreclosure Prevention Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force, replied to this editorial to clear NSP of any wrongful allegations.
The written response, drafted by NHC's Sharon Price, is available below.


Regarding “Priming the Pump” (Editorial, page B06, January 25):


No one wins after foreclosures.

The foreclosure crisis harms not only the millions of homeowners who have lost or are faced with losing their homes but also the low- and moderate-income communities that are becoming plagued with concentrations of foreclosed properties that will sit vacant unable to be sold. When foreclosed homes stand vacant, they create crime, arson hazards and drag down home prices throughout entire neighborhoods. When prices are driven down, everyone loses—the homeowner and the neighborhood.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funding is vital to ensuring that foreclosed homes remain in good condition while vacant and do not lead to lower property values and other conditions that can undermine communities.

The NSP helps communities hit hardest by foreclosures gain desperately needed economic stability. Expending $5 billion in new neighborhood stabilization funds will allow communities to purchase and rehabilitate more than 125,000 vacant, often blighted properties. Those properties will create more than 100,000 new jobs; pay in excess of $210 million in property taxes annually and generate an additional $10.7 billion in economic activity nationwide.

While opponents of the NSP may call the funding “sheer irrationality,” we call it fiscal responsibility and job creation.

We need to stabilize America’s neighborhoods before it’s too late.

Sincerely,

Sharon Price
Coordinator, National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force

The National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force includes nearly 100 national and local organizations that have been meeting since November 2007 to discuss, craft and advocate for federal policies to mitigate the foreclosure crisis.



The Council of State Community Development Agencies, the National Association for County Community and Economic Development, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies, the National Community Development Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors
also defended NSP.

The groups drafted the Sign-On letter below that is addressed to the Washington Post.


January 30, 2009

The Washington Post

The undersigned organizations are compelled to respond to your January 25 editorial, “Priming the Pump.” Specifically, your assertion that the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) would give lenders “an incentive to foreclose on more houses” is absurd.

Neighborhoods throughout the nation have been ravaged by foreclosures. Not only does the presence of foreclosed houses depress the property values of surrounding homes, but these units are magnets for vandalism and criminal activity, and may cause health and safety issues. They strain government resources by increasing the demand for police, fire and code enforcement services. Data from around the country indicates that the impact of foreclosures is more keenly felt in low and moderate income neighborhoods that may have already faced considerable challenges.

With more than three million foreclosures in 2008, prior to any resources being made available for neighborhood stabilization, it is clear that the decision to foreclose results from a series of calculations, but these do not include the existence of NSP funds to help neighborhoods.

Certainly, we need resources directed at preventing additional foreclosures and this is happening at all levels of government. However, we must also help those neighborhoods that are already suffering. States and localities have taken on this task, with their own neighborhood stabilization funds and land trusts, but the Federal government must contribute to this effort. Tax revenue has declined precipitously in areas hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is targeted to these communities and will help them halt the decline in property values and limit the other negative impacts of foreclosed and vacant properties.

These resources are urgently needed in neighborhoods all over America to eliminate blighted properties, create jobs and generate tax revenue and economic activity.

Council of State Community Development Agencies

National Association for County Community and Economic Development
National Association of Counties
National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies
National Community Development Association
U.S. Conference of Mayors