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September 22, 2011: NHLP Asks for Government’s REO Disposition Strategy to Include Affordable Housing

In August, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development released a request for information to seek ideas on how to best dispose of foreclosed properties.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA currently hold about 250,000 foreclosed properties nationwide, of which over 92,000 homes are up for sale as part of the current proposal. Because of the size of the backlog, the agencies are seeking ideas from market participants that would maximize the value of REO portfolio that by pooling REO properties in specific geographic areas and market the properties in bulk. Clearing off the backlog would get the properties off the books of FHA, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored entities that purchased mortgages and bundled them for sale to investors on the secondary market.

On September 15, the National Housing Law Project, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty submitted written comments asking the Administration to prioritize affordable housing when considering how to dispose of its REO backlog. We urge the administration to follow four guiding principles:

• The program must ensure that a significant percentage of the REO stock is affordable to extremely low income individuals and families, including people who are homeless.
• The program should preserve existing tenancies and prevent displacement.
• The program must ensure that property owners have the resources necessary to rehabilitate, maintain, and operate the housing units they acquire.
• The program should take advantage of existing community resources.

NHLP also signed onto three other comment letters submitted by the National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force, the California Reinvestment Coalition, and Poverty & Race Research Action Council.

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