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Piece by Piece Update

February 8, 2012





 Please take note of the following news and calendar items.


NeighborhoodLIFT to Launch This Weekend

This Friday and Saturday, a collaborative effort of Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America and Resources for Residents & Communities to promote home 

purchases will kick off at the Georgia World Congress Center Exhibit Hall B1. The "NeighborhoodLIFT" program provides $15,000 in down payment assistance or renovation grants to qualified buyers. The program also allows these funds to be layered with other sources of assistance like the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. At the Georgia World Congress Center, homebuyers will:  learn if they qualify for the program, reserve their down payment assistance, talk with housing counselors and lenders, get a preview of available homes and more. After getting the necessary information at the event, homebuyers will board buses for one of four tour routes throughout the City. Approximately 100 homes in the City of Atlanta will be open. The event is open to all - especially prospective buyers, realtors, lenders, housing counselors and housing nonprofit representatives The event and tour are free, but attendees are strongly encouraged to register at  www.NeighborhoodLIFT.com



President Obama Announces Plan to Help Homeowners

(Recap courtesy of Enterprise Community Partner's Capitol Express Newsletter):  In his State of the Union address on Jan. 24, President Obama announced a new wide-scale refinancing plan intended to allow all responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and take advantage of historically low interest rates. The costs of the program would be financed through a small fee on large banks. However, the program would require Congressional action to change statutory limits on FHA loan-to-value ratios to allow underwater borrowers to participate. The President also announced a new investigative team at the Department of Justice made of federal prosecutors and states' attorneys general that will expand investigation into abusive lending practices.  For more information from Enterprise Community Partners click here.  Fact Sheet 


For further analysis of the President's plan, visit PBP partner the National Housing Conference's Open House Blog discussion 



Atlanta Leads Major US Cities in Housing Price Decline; 

Metro Home Prices Drop 12% Over Previous Year

The Atlanta region was featured in a February 1 New York Times article on housing prices.  Atlanta experienced the largest home price drop of the major US metropolitan areas with prices declining 12 percent over the previous year.  Home prices are now below their levels of 2000, making Atlanta one of only four metro areas to have experienced such a slide, according to data released last week by Standard and Poor's/Case Shiller Home Price Index.  More



Senator Isakson Speaks out on NPR about New Freddie Mac Revelations and Legislation to Reform the GSEs

Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator Barbara Boxer who have taken the lead on legislation aimed to help homeowners refinance at historically low interest rates shared their concerns about news NPR reported last week that Freddie Mac "has placed multibillion-dollar bets against American homeowners being able to refinance to cheaper mortgages."  Listen to the interview or read a transcript.



Proposals to Fix the Housing Market

Housing thought leader John McIlwain, a senior resident fellow with the Urban Land Institute, proposes three fixes for the housing market woes, including a strategy to rent federally-owned REO. 


As you will recall from the most recent PBP update, the Federal Reserve Board is proposing a rental strategy to re-occupy government-owned REO.  Atlanta has the highest number of government-owned REO in the country with nearly 4,600 homes.


Federal, pilot rental strategies to address the glut of foreclosed homes were also featured in an AJC Business Section cover story on Sunday (2/5/12).  More



GREFPAC 8th Annual Conference

Georgia's dubious distinction as a hotbed for mortgage fraud in the mid-2000s has helped exacerbate our region's foreclosure crisis.  PBP partner The Georgia Real Estate Fraud Prevention and Awareness Coalition (GREFAC) is working hard to help eradicate mortgage fraud.  Their 8th annual conference planned for March 7 at the Cobb Galleria includes a full line-up of housing and mortgage finance experts.  To register, please contact Kelly Hutchinson at [email protected] or visit GREFPAC's website at http://www.grefpac.org/.



HOT TOPIC: Code Enforcement

The City of Griffin's blighted tax ordinance was the focus of last week's PBP local government convening.  In a PBP webinar hosted by Enterprise Community Partners and ARC, Griffin's Planning Director Frederick Gardiner shared details on the City's "community development tax incentive" which taxes blighted and abandoned properties at seven times the regular millage rate to encourage property owners to fix up, tear down or donate their property to the local Land Bank Authority.  Gardiner has described the blight tax as "big wrench in the blight tool box."  Full Presentation  


The AJC featured code enforcement efforts in East Point in a Sunday, February 5 cover story on Reclaiming Neighborhoods.   East Point officials have identified more than 800 vacant structures --- houses and apartment buildings --- still standing in the 11-square mile city of 33,000 people, according to the article.  East Point uses the fire safety code to take control of dilapidated buildings and move the reclamation process through the courts faster.   More



Piece by Piece Recognized in AJC

Piece by Piece efforts, including the Piece by Piece Douglas Initiative led by the Westside Home Builders Association, were featured in AJC article (2/4/12) by reporter Misty Williams on the region's foreclosure crisis. More




Susan Adams

Piece by Piece Coordinator