Funding to Help Reduce Foreclosures in Metropolitan Washington

Jan 27, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – The Capital Area Foreclosure Network (CAFN), created in 2010 to help stem the tide of foreclosures in the region, is awarding $160,000 to local nonprofit organizations to expand or maintain funding for foreclosure prevention for underserved populations and those areas particularly hard-hit by the housing market collapse.

The funding is part of CAFN’s Foreclosure Prevention Fund, which includes financial support and grants from United Way of the National Capital Area and NeighborWorks America. In a collaborative effort, Housing Initiative Partnership (HIP), a HUD-approved housing counseling agency in Prince George’s County, is using a federal appropriation to make matching grants to support bi-lingual housing counselors in the county.

“Latinos have been particularly hard hit by the foreclosure crisis due to the disappearance of construction trade jobs,” said Mosi Harrington, Executive Director of HIP. “These grants will increase the number of bilingual housing counselors in Prince George’s County who can provide quality foreclosure prevention services to this hard hit demographic.”

Seven nonprofit organizations were selected to receive awards from the Foreclosure Prevention Fund. All of the organizations selected for funding have a proven track record in serving areas or populations that are vulnerable to foreclosure. Some of the selected organizations include:

The Latino Economic Development Corporation, which provides community and economic development services to the region’s Latino population, was awarded $25,000 to expand its foreclosure intervention counseling program for Spanish-speaking residents of Prince George’s County, which is by far the jurisdiction in the region hit the hardest by the bust. The funding will help LEDC broaden the reach of its bilingual, one-on-one counseling services to low and moderate-income Latinos and other underserved communities from both Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. LEDC will work in partnership with CASA de Maryland.

Sowing Empowerment and Economic Development, Inc, which works in urban communities in Prince George’s County and provides a variety of services in educational, social and economic areas, received $25,000 to support the organization’s foreclosure prevention services for Spanish- speaking residents. SEED assisted 700 foreclosure prevention clients in the last three years.

Housing Counseling Services, which was founded in 1972 to provide comprehensive housing counseling, training, advocacy, and housing opportunities for low and moderate-income homeowners and renters, was awarded $25,000 to support foreclosure prevention clinics and outreach activities to at-risk mortgagors in Northern Virginia. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond determined that between June 2009 and June 2010 significant increases in foreclosure occurred in Northern Virginia (by 35% in Alexandria, 25% in Fairfax County, and by 16% in Prince William County). The awarded funding will help HCS to better educate homeowners at-risk of foreclosure about specific methods of prevention and those currently in default about the process of foreclosure.

“We know that homeowners who receive counseling are 1.6 times more likely to avoid foreclosure and to receive larger reductions in the loan payments,” said Bill Hanbury, President and CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area. “That’s why the funding that CAFN is awarding today is so important.”

Tim Adams, Director of NeighborWorks America’s Mid-Atlantic District also highlighted the importance of funding housing counseling programs. “As the housing market remains on uneven footing and unemployment remains a major cause of homeowners entering foreclosure, nonprofit counselors are facing the twin threats of overwhelming demand for services and less funding from local governments who are also struggling in this economy.”

During the housing boom, the metropolitan Washington region experienced some of the largest increases in housing prices in the nation. Now, in the wake of the housing bust, much of that value has evaporated and many area residents are facing the prospect of foreclosure unless they receive financial assistance and/or counseling. In December 2009, 148,000 mortgages in the region were in default, while only 20,000 homeowners received counseling.

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