Supervisors seek federal money for foreclosed homes
In an effort to possibly help people buy foreclosed homes, county supervisors last week directed the County of San Diego’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) to apply for a $5.14 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The supervisors’s 4-0 vote, with Supervisor Dianne Jacob absent due to hip replacement surgery, also authorized HCD to develop a homebuyer program and issue notices of funding availability.
The program is intended to help homebuyers purchase foreclosed dwellings and issue smaller grants to a higher total of homebuyers.
“Our goal here is to get people into homes and make sure they’re able to pay the price,” said Supervisor Bill Horn.
“We want to get them into a house they can afford,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts. “It doesn’t do us any good if they’re out of the housing within a couple of years.”
HCD’s initial concept called for loans of up to $100,000. Even $50,000 loans mean approximately 100 homeowners receiving assistance, if the federal government approves the loan.
“This is a very limited number compared to the thousands of foreclosures in San Diego County,” said Catherine Lichterman, HCD director.
HCD used DataQuick Information Systems to determine the number of single-family homes in each community and the number of foreclosures between April 2007 and September 2008. The data indicated 726,631 single-family homes in San Diego County and 20,399 foreclosures during that period, or a 2.8 percent foreclosure rate.
Within the County of San Diego’s jurisdiction, 2,915 homes, or 2.5 percent of the total 115,619 single-family dwelling units, were foreclosed upon during that period.
The San Ysidro ZIP code, which is within the City of San Diego, had the highest foreclosure rate during that period, as 242 foreclosures among the 3,175 single-family units equated to a rate of 7.62 percent. The highest rate in HCD jurisdiction is the 6.25 percent rate in Campo, accounting for 54 foreclosures among 864 homes. The only community without any foreclosures during that period was Tecate, which has 17 single-family units.
Ramona’s 9,501 single-family homes saw 243 foreclosures for a 2.56 percent rate, while Santa Ysabel had a 1.52 percent rate based on 3 foreclosures and 198 single-family units.
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, enacted on July 30, 2008, includes appropriation of $3.92 billion of Community Development Block Grant funds, which may be used to acquire, or provide financial assistance to acquire, foreclosed or abandoned properties that might otherwise become sources of blight in a community.
The money may also be used to develop a program for homebuyers earning up to 120 percent of the area median income, which in San Diego County is $94,800 for a four-person household, or to develop a program to help nonprofit organizations or other developers purchase, construct or rehabilitate single-family or multi-family affordable housing projects.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a notice of allocation on Sept. 29, 2008, and provided a Dec. 1, 2008, deadline to apply for the grants.
All funds must be committed within 18 months of the grant award and spent within four years of the award. The money is expected to be received in the second quarter of 2009.
The program requires that at least 25 percent of the funds be used for housing for low-income individuals whose incomes are no more than 50 percent of the area median income, which in San Diego County is an annual income of $39,500 for a four-person household.
Priority emphasis must be given to areas of greatest needs, including those with the greatest percentage of foreclosure, those with the highest percentage of homes financed by subprime mortgage loans, and those identified as likely to face a significant rise in the rate of home foreclosures.
Initial HCD plans require primary lenders rather than subprime mortgages.
“We are committed to ensuring the success of these families up front,” Lichterman said.
Roberts believed that lower loan amounts to more families would ensure payment ability as well as provide assistance to more homebuyers.
“This is the reason we’re in this mess to begin with,” he said of large loans that homeowners might not be able to repay. “I don’t want to replicate that.”
Roberts noted that the large number of foreclosed properties combined with the small number of homeowners who could be helped by the grant made the “neighborhood stabilization” billing misleading.
“It’s an overblown title for a modest program,” he said.
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