County gets $6 million to mitigate effects of foreclosures

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By AJ Vicens

Jefferson County is set to receive $6 million from the federal government to offset the effects of foreclosed homes, but none of that money is currently headed to South Jeffco.

Community Development Director Jacqui Pickett told the county commissioners March 3 that the county will get $6.01 million through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The money can be used to buy foreclosed or abandoned residential properties, redevelop them, and sell them to families that earn less than $86,000 annually (120 percent of Jeffco’s median income).

The money can also be used to establish land banks for foreclosed homes or for “soft” seconds — zero-interest, forgivable loans to fund the difference between what people can borrow and how much a home costs. The money can also be used to demolish blighted properties.

The goal of the program is to prevent foreclosed or abandoned homes from lowering nearby property values.

Pickett said at the meeting with commissioners March 3 that the program will fund the purchase and redevelopment of 12 homes in Arvada, Lakewood and Golden.

“We only got $6 million,” Pickett said.

“This is not a recourse for people trying to hold onto their homes,” said Commissioner Kathy Hartman.

“Unfortunately, you are correct,” Pickett said. “We can only buy foreclosed and 90-day vacant homes.” Pickett said that money from the recently passed federal stimulus package might be able to help homeowners facing imminent foreclosure.

Foreclosure filings dropped by 2 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to the Colorado Division of Housing’s fourth quarter 2008 foreclosure report. Foreclosure sales dropped by 15 percent in that same time period.

A “filing” starts the foreclosure process and typically happens when a homeowner is three or more months delinquent on a mortgage. Homeowners generally have 120 days to remedy the situation, but if they can’t, the house can be sold at the public trustee auction to a third party or to the mortgage company.

One out of every 120 houses in Jefferson County completed the foreclosure process in 2008, putting the county in the top third of Colorado counties. Adams County saw one of every 44 homes complete the foreclosure process in 2008, the most in the state. Garfield County had the least, with one of every 2,032 homes completing the foreclosure process.

Contact AJ Vicens at: aj@evergreenco.com, and comment on this story at www.columbinecourier.com.