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In The News

NOVEMBER 21, 2013

Land Banks Provide Options for Dealing with Abandoned Properties

A new state law on land banks was implemented in 2011 in New York and a recent amendment to that law removes some of the barriers for acquisition that were prevalent and preventing program success.  The amendment eliminated a restriction requiring counties and municipalities to purchase properties with judicial authorization, enabling them to bid at public auction.

SOURCE: WBFO - Buffalo's NPR News Station


NOVEMBER 10, 2013

Developing Strategies for Developing Affordable Rental Housing

Developers face numerous difficulties when it comes to creating affordable rental housing. Pieces are often missing and strategies for pulling a project together can be a challenge, especially when it comes to financing. This Shelterforce blog highlights NeighborWorks America’s process and approach for supporting affordable rental housing development.  It promotes the idea that obtaining flexible funding is key and finding it early is just as important.

SOURCE: Shelterforce


NOVEMBER 1, 2013

Walkable Neighborhoods: The Answer to Successful Revitalization?

Areas suffering from “suburban sprawl” need new strategies for success.  Woodstock, Georgia, which is about 30 miles from Atlanta, began implementing such strageies after winning a planning grant over 10 years ago. The grant funded a new design for its neighborhood center, which resulted in increased density, transforming 30 acres of land into about 300 units of housing and 80,000 square feet of commercial space, plus a string of open parks.



OCTOBER 25, 2013

Fighting Blight with “Dollar Homes”

Decades of decline and population loss has resulted in nearly 10,000 empty homes in Gary, Indiana, a third of which are owned by the city.  As a result, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has introduced a number of strategies to deal with the resulting blight.

SOURCE: Next City


OCTOBER 14, 2013

Creative Strategies for Managing Abandoned Homes

Many different types of communities are affected by foreclosure and most of them are trying to come up with new, more effective ways to respond. This includes increased land banking activities (to turn the property back to productive use), innovative code enforcement rules (to boost property upkeep), streamlined foreclosure laws (to simplify the process) and expanded receiver powers (to help give the community control over empty homes). Communities are also reworking comprehensive plans and taking steps to incorporate new and creative responses.



OCTOBER 1, 2013

Setting Priorities: Are Parking Options More Important than Affordability?

A “healthy living” apartment building proposed for a neighborhood in Portland, Maine is creating debate because of its lack of parking options, which many believe will result in parking issues and traffic problems and create hardship for residents and local business owners. Others believe it is appropriate to focus more on much-needed affordable housing, and that Portland needs affordable options more than it needs parking.

SOURCE: Bangor Daily News


SEPTEMBER 16, 2013

New Rules for Reverse Mortgages

Changes to the rules around reverse mortgages can now be made by the Federal Housing Administration – which insures almost all reverse mortgages – thanks to recent rulings by Congress. The changes will likely make it more difficult for older homeowners to qualify for reverse mortgage loans, resulting in less borrowing ability but also a lower default rate. The new rules will also decrease the practice of making big ‘lump sum’ payments via reverse mortgage. The new limits to the program will be announced soon. 

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal



Smart Investments Are Critical to Neighborhood Revitalization

“Combining values with capital” is key to reviving communities, but knowledge and business sense are also critical to success. A focused and deliberate project can move forward quickly and successfully if it’s designed with features that spur additional investment in the neighborhood. This essay by Don Hinkle-Brown, CEO of the Reinvestment Fund, describes the rationale behind creating a place-based plan – one that will boost local market values and promote equity throughout the entire neighborhood.

SOURCE: What Works for America's Communities


AUGUST 31, 2013

New Ruling in Chicago Favors Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac

A recent ruling in Chicago states that vacant buildings in foreclosure and with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac do not have to follow the city’s vacant building ordinance. The ordinance requires owners of vacant buildings, including mortgagees, to register buildings when they become vacant, pay a $500 registration fee and make sure the property maintains certain standards. This new ruling, filed by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin, makes it so Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can follow their own guidelines for dealing with vacant and foreclosed properties.

SOURCE: The Chicago Tribune


AUGUST 25, 2013

Home Prices Continue to Rise

For the third month in a row, home prices have increased more than 5 percent over the past year and in July rose 6 percent, a sign that housing recovery is “on very sound footing” says  Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Stan Humphries. Of the 39 metros surveyed in July, 73.5 percent showed month over month appreciation and Zillow expects this appreciation to continue over the next year.

SOURCE: Reverse Mortgage Daily


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