The first necessary task of getting organized to develop an effective foreclosure response is to identify which organizations are already involved in addressing various aspects of the crisis. Stakeholders will likely include local non-profit community development agencies and housing counseling agencies, philanthropic groups, local real estate agents and developers, banks, legal-aid, advocates and local and state political officials.
Some areas may find that the foreclosure crisis has reached the point where local stakeholders are eager to engage with each other, but in other areas groups may need to publicize the crisis and educate public and private actors about why they should be concerned and involved in a coordinated foreclosure response strategy.
Getting Organized at the State Level
Since many of the laws and regulation that will determine the effectiveness of foreclosure response occur at the state level, it is essential that priority be given to organizing at that level. So far, this need has been addressed in a number of states by establishing a "Foreclosure Response Task Force."
Creating a broad reaching task force can help to ensure that all facets of a state's approach to addressing the foreclosure crisis are woven together into a comprehensive foreclosure plan. So that communities' solutions can be both quick and comprehensive, the recommendations of a task force can be implemented on a rolling basis. According to a study released in April 2008 by the Pew Center on the States, 14 states had created foreclosure task forces as of that time (Pew Charitable Trusts 2008
Foreclosure task forces should have a diverse membership, including government officials, community-based non-profits, real estate agents, financial institutions, attorneys, developers, and business leaders. Increased awareness of and attention to foreclosure issues may be an immediate benefit of creating a task force, while stronger foreclosure prevention and mitigation policies and assistance for struggling homeowners and neighborhoods tend to follow as a task force's plans are devised and implemented.
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|Solutions in Action |
|The Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force|
In 2007, Ohio responded to the state's high foreclosure rate by creating the Ohio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force. The task force brought together representatives of industry, government, and non-profit organizations to develop a common set of recommendations for helping families to avoid foreclosure and communities to deal with its aftermath. The task force has resulted in a new outreach campaign, more flexible refinancing options, expanded legal services, increased opportunities for borrower-lender communication, and more comprehensive and usable state foreclosure prevention websites.
Learn more in our case study of Ohio's task force.
Getting Organized at the Local and Regional Levels
At the local level, the first priority is to mobilize foreclosure response teams within local governments since they (municipalities and counties) have the legal power and responsibility over many of the requisite actions (particularly with respect to neighborhood stabilization -- securing properties and bringing them back into use). Governments at this level had the responsibility for preparing the Neighborhood Stabilization Plans called for under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). The first step is to establish a cross-departmental team or task force, probably under the aegis of a deputy mayor or other official with enough power to assure coordination across disparate agencies. Important here too is involving local Community Development Corporations and other non-profit housing and community development advocates in the planning process so that they will be prepared to play much needed roles in implementation.
Interestingly, there also is a growing recognition of the need for new or stronger mechanisms at the metropolitan level; such efforts would examine how the nature of the problem varies across neighborhoods metro-wide, develop an overall foreclosure response strategy (offering guidance on where and how to target resources), mobilize local interest and participation, press higher levels of government to support needed reforms, and track the performance of all groups working on the issue. These functions fill a real gap. Individual jurisdictions may face difficulties performing these functions because they cannot take advantage of economies of scale in mobilizing and coordinating the deployment of nonprofit resources. State governments cannot take them on because they are too removed from the local scene and may not be accepted as "truly representing" the metropolis at hand.
There is only a small collection of stories to go by, but it appears that a growing number of metropolitan areas are now trying to strengthen their coordination of foreclosure response activities. There is no single right answer to the question of how local practitioners, advocates, and policymakers should structure and govern their regional collaboration. Instead, a variety of institutional forms are emerging.
|Solutions in Action |
|Collaboration in Kent County, Michigan|
The Foreclosure Response coalition in Kent County, Michigan is a collaborative effort involving government, private, and non-profit stakeholders that use high-quality data to respond to foreclosures in the county. The coalition includes members from more than forty groups, including non-profit housing and service agencies, neighborhood organizations, foundations, city and county governments, Legal Aid resources, financial institutions, and real estate professionals throughout Grand Rapids and Kent County.
Learn more in a case study about the Foreclosure Response coalition.
, for example, several local counseling and advocacy groups came together to form Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition (BHPC), which has since become the central place where those working on the issue in the area meet to try to track the problem and discuss ideas for response (Pierson 2008
). BHPC now has 58 member organizations, which include government agencies and legal services and community development groups, as well as counseling organizations. While focusing on the city, the Coalition has been reaching out to work with metro- and state actors as well.
|In Atlanta, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC, in effect, the region's council of governments) has taken the lead in analyzing information about how the incidence of foreclosures varies across the region and is now working with the city, individual county governments, universities and other local non-governmental partners on the development of strategies to expand foreclosure prevention and stabilize impacted neighborhoods (Rich Carnathan Immergluck 2008). |
In many other regions, the existing Council of Governments or Metropolitan Planning Organizations may be best positioned to exert leadership on this issue and stimulate the creation of coalitions of interested stakeholders (like the Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition) and rich partnering relationships with individual local governments. Alternatively, a non-governmental coalition might form first as it did in Baltimore and then play the central role in engaging the Council of Government and other local players.
Once organizations are engaged on the issue, they will likely take on different roles in the coalition. In Memphis
, for example, there are 3 sub-groups in their coalition: a working group, a resource group and a leadership group.
- Working Group: This group consists of the local community development councils, legal services, and other leading non-profit agencies together with data support provided by the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (based at the University of Memphis). The working group does most of the planning and implementation work of the coalition.
- Resource Group: This group is made up of organizations and local agencies that can provide specialized resources for the working group, such as on housing counseling or code enforcement strategies.
- Leadership Group: This last group is made of up community leaders, including city and county officials and local foundations. While this group may not participate in the day-to-day work of the coalition, the success of its strategy depends on getting their input and buy-in.
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|From the Forum...|
"How do you think [the difference in experience and capacity among housing non-profits in Cleveland and St. Louis] will impact their abilities to stabilize
neighborhoods through NSP, and do you have any suggestions for cities
or regions that need to build their response capacity while trying to
meet the demands of NSP?"
See the response and read more of the conversation in the Live at the Forum: Regional Resilience in the Face of Foreclosures discussion thread.
The HousingPolicy.org Forum is a place to pose questions, exchange ideas, and learn from the experience and expertise of others. This section of the site features interactive forums organized around policy areas, including rental housing preservation.