Tacoma awarded $3.86M grant to assist neighborhoods with high foreclosure rates

Thirteen Washington non-profit organizations will split $43.8 million the state received to fund foreclosure relief as part of the landmark $25 billion national settlement with the country’s five largest mortgage servicers announced in February.

Locally, the City of Tacoma was awarded $3.86 million to provide homeownership opportunities to buyers of foreclosed vacant houses in Tacoma’s neighborhoods with the highest foreclosure rates: the Hilltop, Eastside and South End / South Tacoma. The city’s Tacoma Community Redevelopment Authority (TCRA) will provide down payment assistance to buyers purchasing a foreclosed house in one of these designated areas. The TCRA will also provide funding to partner organizations, including the Homeownership Center of Tacoma, Habitat for Humanity and the Tacoma Housing Authority to assist them acquire, refurbish and resell foreclosed houses in these neighborhoods.

According to city officials, when a formerly foreclosed vacant house is occupied by a new owner, it typically becomes a model for the neighborhood. The lawn is mowed, the shrubbery is trimmed and the exterior surfaces of the house and fence are cleaned and painted. This pride in ownership spreads throughout the neighborhood and everyone starts to take a renewed interest in maintaining their own home. These funds are going to have a very positive impact on many neighborhoods in Tacoma, according to city officials.

The Consumer Foreclosures Remedies Fund (CFRF) Committee reviewed proposals in six key areas and worked to ensure the funds were balanced across the state, reaching a variety of affected communities. The committee granted the largest chunk of the funds — more than $18 million — to organizations with plans to provide direct mortgage relief to consumers. The Legal Foundation of Washington’s Home Justice project will receive another roughly $13 million to provide legal representation for the more than 30,000 low and moderate income people who are expected to face foreclosure in the coming years or who are among the more than 135,000 households whose homes were foreclosed upon in the last four years.

The committee provided more than $4.8 million for anti-blight projects in Tacoma, Seattle and parts of King County. They allocated another $4.1 million for foreclosure counseling projects.

Finally, the committee provided more than $2 million to Resolution Washington to support the Washington Foreclosure Mediation Program and provide training for volunteer foreclosure mediators and $1.26 million to two organizations to conduct outreach to help raise awareness about available resources and help them restore their homes and communities.

A complete list of grant recipients is available online here.

***UPDATE 09/14/12*** Tacoma City Council is scheduled to vote on Tues., Sept. 25 on a resolution to formally accept the $3.86 million grant. A draft version of the resolution is available online here.

The City of Tacoma was awarded $3.86 million to provide homeownership opportunities to buyers of foreclosed vacant houses in Tacoma's neighborhoods with the highest foreclosure rates. (FILE PHOTO BY TODD MATTHEWS)