Some good news came on the housing scene the other day: federal housing officials announced nearly $1 billion in funding to buy up foreclosed properties. The money will go to state and local governments so they can purchase, redevelop or demolish these properties. Foreclosures have become the face of this recession. They can be like a disease that whisks in and infects an entire neighborhood or metropolitan area. The anti-American Dream, foreclosing on a house symbolizes rock bottom for a family’s financial situation.
But the new cash infusion should help to turn it around. Foreclosure is bad, but it can also symbolize a new beginning. If the funds can help state and local governments to transform foreclosures into much-needed affordable housing and rentals, then ultimately it’s better for the community, the local housing markets and local economies.
So far, the money seems to be headed in the right direction. Nearly half of the $970 million will go to the states hit hardest by foreclosures: Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada. Another big chunk is going to states in the Rust Belt, which have also been hit hard by foreclosure and tremendous job loss.
The government said funds can be used to buy property, demolish or rehab abandoned properties, and provide down payment and closing cost assistance to low-to moderate-income buyers, which should help to pump some life into this market segment.
I think it’s a much-needed boost and money well spent. We’ve said all along that there are opportunities in this market despite the gloomy numbers and forecasts. Here’s an opportunity for the state and local governments not only to create a better housing situation for some residents, but to create jobs associated with demolishing and rebuilding, boost confidence and improve their communities.
That’s real forward motion!