No One At Home: How To Deal With Foreclosures In Your Community

Minority neighborhoods in America have been devastated by foreclosures, with banks taking over the homes that remain vacant indefinitely. Several banks, including most recently Bank of America, have been called to task by The National Fair Housing Alliance, which has filed official complaints to  the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about the poor maintenance of these vacant homes.

Los Angeles realtor Chantay Bridges of Clear Choice Realty & Associates tells us in an email there are various reasons behind the neglect. For the most part, a lack of legal enforcement allows banks to be careless in black and Latino neighborhoods. “In some states, there are no laws in place to prevent the banks from not adhering to bias practices,” Bridges said. And where there are laws, they are rarely enforced. “It costs the city, tax-paying citizens and banks a considerable amount to maintain foreclosed homes. Therefore some institutions may forego maintenance in lieu of paying a fee for negligence.” In other words, for the banks it most likely doesn’t come down to race, but money.

“For some lenders it may not be a question of black versus white communities, it may be driven by, affluent versus impoverished.  Poverty and wealth always plays a role,” she says. “In wealthier neighborhoods you may find more assistance in maintaining a foreclosed home such as alarms, private security companies, strong community organizations, etc. [R]egardless, it is the bank’s responsibility… to maintain the bank-owned homes. It affects property values overall.” Vacant homes also attract squatters and trespassers and can lead to increased crime.

But you can take matters into your own hands.

Bridges suggests taking a petition to the local councilperson, contacting the bank, or the realtor. “Ask for increased fines and penalties for banks that do not maintain their REO properties,” she wrote. “Contact the listing agent on the sign and find out who is responsible for the upkeep. Ask the lender to provide a foreclosure list and who is responsible for each property in your community.”

To prevent other homes from going into foreclosure, try to help neighbors in need. “Organize or host foreclosure-prevention workshops. Request a community-based organization to come to your neighborhood and hold a meeting. The workshops could give your quietly struggling neighbors the assistance they need,” reports in the article “Don’t Let Foreclosed Homes Ruin Your Neighborhood.

According to the article, there are various organizations take can give you advice and be a resource to deal with this issue in your neighborhood. They include the National Housing Institute, National Vacant Properties Campaign and Neighborhood Works America.

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