Today, the Senate is debating a housing rescue package that includes $4 billion of neighborhood stabilization funds to help states and localities struggling to manage the fallout of vacant and abandoned properties caused by the foreclosure crisis. Rather than having properties sitting vacant and attracting blight, these funds would help to purchase vacant, blighted properties, rehabilitate them, and resell or rent them affordably to qualified families. More specifically, the $4 billion that would be distributed to state and local governments would:
*Generate $8.6 billion in additional economic activity, more than paying for the cost of the program twice over
*Restore 120,000 homes to productive use, reducing downward pressure on neighboring home values
*Create 80,000 new jobs in construction and other industries
*Save localities $1.2 billion in costs associated with foreclosed properties, ranging from lawn mowing and boarding up properties to adding police patrols and extinguishing fires
*Directly provide $200 million in property tax revenues which would otherwise have been lost
It is anticipated that efforts will be made to remove this funding during the current debate in the Senate and upcoming consideration by the House of Representatives. To take action, please call your Senators, Congressman and Members of the House Leadership and demand that Congress retain this much needed funding that will not only help purchase and rehabilitate these properties, but will also create new jobs and economic activity.
At the end of the first quarter of 2008, there were an estimated 1.27 million properties in foreclosure in the United States. In addition, there were approximately 350,000 sub-prime mortgages more than 90 days delinquent where foreclosure proceedings had not yet begun. The national foreclosure crisis is affecting not only individual families, but whole communities, cities and states that are struggling to manage the fallout of vacant and abandoned properties. Already tight state and municipal budgets are hard-pressed to cover the rising costs of boarding up abandoned properties, removing trash and combating increased vandalism, arson and property and personal crimes. Home prices are falling and middle-class wealth, long accumulated through home equity, is dwindling.