At first, stories about the foreclosure crisis focused on half-built McMansions in suburbia. But, all along, the hardest hit have actually been low-income Americans — and the communities they live in. As the mortgage crisis spiraled into a full-blown financial meltdown, the interconnections between the fate of individual homes and our nation’s financial health has become clearer. This report shares lessons from the work of pilot projects in 10 cities to address the foreclosure crisis. It identifies obstacles and recommends changes to local, state and federal policies, while also identifying strategies that are beginning to work, home-by-home and block-by-block

This document is an effort to take a look at the work of foreclosure mitigation pilot projects in 10 cities, to identify obstacles keeping these community groups from greater success, and to recommend changes to local, state and federal policies, while also identifying strategies that are beginning to work, home-by-home and block-by-block.

In some cities, the crisis is so severe that these strategies may not succeed by any traditional definition. The impact of skyrocketing unemployment and foreclosure rates in cities that were already struggling will be felt for decades. However, in the long run, Living Cities hopes to boost structures and mechanisms that can endure, remaining in place once the immediate crisis is over.

Before we look closely at these projects, we must briefly explore the forces destabilizing so many American communities. In Chapter 2, we explore how the housing crisis has weakened cities, drawing on data, the insights of local leaders, and interviews with national experts.

Chapter 3 offers the results of our investigation into 10 ambitious solutions to the foreclosure crisis. In these 10 regions, leaders in the field of urban revitalization are reconsidering long-accepted practices and developing ambitious new answers to thorny problems. Our research shows they are refining existing models, while also embracing new partners.

Despite the achievements of these groundbreaking efforts, it is clear that the problems facing communities are too big for the neighborhood-level or even city-level organizations to tackle alone. Broad solutions require both significant investments and an array of changes to policies–from City Hall to the White House. Therefore, in Chapter 4, we draw on the successes, frustrations, and challenges of those on the frontlines to articulate a set of policy recommendations for how to halt the fraying of our urban fabric.