Officials of 12 Cities and Obama Administration go to Neighborhood Stabilization Boot Camp

Christine Nyholm's picture

The Obama Administration and top officials from 12 cities will be meeting at Harvard University on March 14-16, 2010 for the Neighborhood Stabilization Boot Camp. Dozens of local officials from 12 of the regions hit hardest by the housing crisis are meeting along with government officials, non profit organizations and real estate firms to develop new strategies for stabilizing neighborhoods that experience large numbers of foreclosures.

Foreclosures and housing abandonment are problems that go beyond the family. High concentrations of foreclosures in a region can bring property values in the entire neighborhood or community, according to a press release from HUD. As the foreclosure crisis in the United States worsens, national and local leaders are convening to define game changing solutions for stabilizing hard hit communities and leveraging Federal funding.

Officials from 12 of the hardest hit regions in America are convening at Harvard University for the Neighborhood Stabilization Boot Camp.
Convening at the Boot Camp are government officials, nonprofits and real estate firms from Baltimore; Chicago; Cuyahoga County (OH); Denver; Los Angeles; Michigan; Massachusetts; New Orleans; Philadelphia; Phoenix; South Florida; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota where promising approaches are taking hold, along with the largest national mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank. Senior officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Treasury, FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac will also participate.

The Boot Camp is being sponsored by Living Cities and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Living Cities is an innovative philanthropic collaborative of 22 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions.

The goals for the boot camp are to look for methods to stabilize neighborhoods in the face of housing foreclosures and abandonment by defining new strategies that will have a positive impact on targeted neighborhoods. They will also explore methods to leverage more that $6 billion in federal funds along with accessing private capital.

"Everyone, from government agencies and nonprofits to financial institutions and foundations, are frustrated by our collective inability to get stabilization efforts to scale. This Boot Camp is a direct response to that frustration," said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities.

Concentrated foreclosures in areas impact the neighborhood with blight, depressed property values, lessened property tax collection and a reduction in municipal services. In 2009 alone, foreclosures have may have reduced property values of nearby homes; most owned by families paying their mortgage on time┬┐by more than $500 billion, according to the Center for Responsible Lending.

"It's important that government at every level, along with the private sector and non-profit community, ramp up our collective effort to confront the foreclosure crisis head on," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "The scale of this challenge demands that we redouble our efforts to stabilize neighborhoods and restore a real sense of sustainability to our American Dream."

The Neighborhood Stabilization Boot Camp takes place at Harvard University on March 14-16, 2010.

Written by Christine Nyholm

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