HousingPolicy.org Forum

Join us on Tuesday, February 9 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. - 1:00 pm. Pacific) to hear about learnings from Living Cities' Foreclosure Mitigation Initiative and their new report, Communities at Risk: How the Foreclosure Crisis is Damaging Urban Areas and What is Being Done About It, and get answers to your questions from George McCarthy, Matt Pacenza, and Kevin McQueen.

  • Hear about the initiative: The two-part event begins at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (11:00 a.m. Pacific) with a 30-minute conference call, where major findings from the report and initiative will be presented. The call-in number is (712) 432-1001 and the access code is 452746624#.
  • Interact with the authors: Immediately following the call, from 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. Eastern (11:30 a.m. to 1:00 pm. Pacific), George McCarthy, Matt Pacenza, and Kevin McQueen will be online to answer your questions. All questions should be posted to this thread, and you are welcome to post at any time before or during the event. Questions will be answered on a first-come, first-served basis until time runs out, so post early to be sure yours is addressed.

Note: You will need to refresh your browser periodically during the live event to view new questions and responses.

Thank you to all who participated in this Live at the Forum event.  Audio from the conference call can be accessed here.

About the Initiative
Launched in late 2007, Living Cities' Foreclosure Mitigation Initiative provided $5.25 million in foreclosure mitigation grants to organizations in 10 locations.  The purpose of these grants was to support innovative local neighborhood stabilization pilot projects that could become models for the acquisition and resale of foreclosed properties.  An interim evaluation of the initiative, conducted by the Urban Institute, is available on the Living Cities website.  Three case studies related to the Initiative are available for download as PDFs below.

About the Report

Communities at Risk: How the Foreclosure Crisis is Damaging Urban Areas and What is Being Done About It describes how foreclosures are damaging America's cities, triggering a spiral of abandonment, decay and municipal budget shortfalls. It also looks at ten pilot projects that community groups and partnerships have developed to fight for their communities.  The report can be accessed at: http://livingcities.org/download/?id=41

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Mac, in my experience, everyone is talking about principal reductions, but the lender / servicer industry hasn't adopted this practice to any great extent. Anecdotally, I have heard of one lender (Ocwen Financial) that have allowed principal forgiveness on 15% of the mortgages in its portfolio. This lender is allowing principal forgiveness in stages, as a carrot for the homeowner remaining current on the payments with a modified mortgage.
Principal reduction mods are indeed very rare according to the LPS data (aka McDash, 34 million loans) we are using in the evaluation of Natl Forecl Mitig Counseling program--both for people receiving counseling and for people without. Alan White finds the same thing in his pool of securitized loans held in Wells Fargo trust (heavily ARMs and low-doc).
For those who wish to listen to an archived copy of the conference call, a wav file is now available at: http://www.housingpolicy.org/assets/Forum%20Library/LATF_Feb9_2010.wav
Sorry I could not participate during the call, but just to comment about the Cleveland public nuisance law suit is it is on appeal. However, I believe the temporary restraining order that compels Wells to abate imminent safety hazards did take effect. I think the appeal is on the permanent injunction and the damages/costs. NPI is the plaintiff and Kermit Lind at the Cleveland Marshall School of law is the lead counsel. From a legal and policy perspective, the law suit is treating Wells Fargo like any other property owner who owns dozens of vacant properties that are not maintained and pose threats to public safety. Yes, litigation is time intensive and you need the right attorneys and investigation, but it could be an effective way to confront those mortgage servicers who cannot maintain their properties. I cannot imagine that NPI will not prevail on appeal.

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