In March 2010, Living Cities convened dozens of local officials from 12 of the regions hit hardest by the housing crisis at Harvard University to develop new strategies for stabilizing neighborhoods that experience large numbers of foreclosures.
The neighborhood-level impacts of concentrated foreclosures can be devastating: blight, depressed property values, diminished property tax collections and a reduction in municipal services – a negative feedback loop that repeats and worsens. In 2009 alone, foreclosures have may have reduced property values of nearby homes—most owned by families paying their mortgage on time—by more than $500 billion, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.
The Boot Camp brought together teams of government officials, nonprofits and real estate firms from Baltimore, Chicago, Cuyahoga County (OH), Denver, Los Angeles, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, South Florida and the Twin Cities where promising approaches are taking hold, along with the largest national mortgage lenders, servicers and trustees such as Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup. Senior officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Treasury, FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac also participated in the convening.
The Neighborhood Stabilization Boot Camp was designed to produce a dramatic increase in the speed and scale of smarter, more sustainable neighborhood stabilization by:
- Helping to define new strategies that will have a material impact on targeted neighborhoods;
- Sharing “game-changing” practices that will accelerate keeping units occupied and putting property vacant units back into productive use
- Significantly leveraging the more than $6 billion in federal funds, with an emphasis on accessing larger and more flexible amounts of private capital