Governor Elizabeth A. Duke

At the Community Stabilization Symposium, NeighborWorks Training Institute, National Harbor, Maryland

December 9, 2009

Keys to Successful Neighborhood Stabilization

“Communities with weak underlying economies are characterized by a long trend of population loss, gradual impoverishment, and strained municipal resources. For cities like Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis the increase in foreclosures over the last few years has exacerbated a pre-existing vacancy problem. The increased rates of foreclosures and the related economic downturn have hastened a cycle of decreasing property values. Declines in state and local property and sales tax revenues result in even more vacant homes and deteriorating neighborhoods.

Many community organizations and homeowners have been frustrated by the difficulties of working with mortgage lenders and servicers, and these problems are even more exaggerated in weaker market cities. In the most devastated neighborhoods, some lenders do not even complete the foreclosure process or record the outcome of foreclosure sales because the cost of foreclosing exceeds the value of the property. Anecdotal evidence suggests that these “toxic titles” have placed significant numbers of properties in a difficult state of legal limbo.