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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Foreclosues impact on neighborhoods

I showed yet another foreclosed house last night and got to thinking about the impact that all of these foreclosures are having on the communities and neighborhoods in which they are located. I did a little research (read that as I "Googled" it). There are some good studies on this issue already. One is called "There goes the Neighborhood" and is worth a read. Another is by ACORN (Assoc for COmmunity Reform Now) is a good study of the impact of foreclosures on communities and the services that they offer.

I guess that I had always focused upon thoughts about the people who used to own the home and less about the impact on the surrounding community. Foreclosures rates like we are seeing now (in some areas as much as 1 in 10 homeowners are losing their homes) definitely will mean lower tax collection for the local governments and thus lower ability to offer normal services. Foreclosures have already driven down property values in most areas and they will eventually translate to lower tax collections, too.

What I experience quite often, when I take people into these foreclosed homes, is that the place has been vandalized, either by the former owners or by someone breaking in after the house has been abandoned. That adds to the difficulty of selling the place and further lowers the value. I have been in a few that seem to be contributing to neighborhood crime increases (drug houses), as well as being vandalized.

So, this foreclosure problem is bigger that just saying "Oh, poor them, they lost their house;" it really is "There goes the neighborhood," and we need to do something about it before it drags us all down. I've seen a couple of neighborhoods where the Home Owners Association (HOA) has taken actions to insure that foreclosed houses don't become eyesores - mowing grass, picking up fallen limbs and the such - but even they can't do all that is necessary, like keeping the house painted or replacing broken glass, because of legal and liability issues. Still, it's a start to getting the community involved in fighting back against foreclosure blight.

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