Piece by Piece Update

June 2015





Please take note of the following news and calendar updates:


Housing Rally Leaves Some Behind


Mayor Jackson of Lithonia discusses her city's challenges with negative equity in WSJ article.

(Wall Street Journal) The housing rebound may have lifted home prices across much of the nation. But cities like Lithonia, Ga., are still waiting for the bounce. Along with other communities in the Atlanta area, the small working-class suburb saw prices run up during the housing boom a decade ago, followed by an epic bust. While nearby wealthier areas are now rising, or even fully recovered, poorer towns such as Lithonia are stuck with a housing crisis that drags on. 

Signs of a disproportionate housing recovery appear across the U.S. Nationwide, about 15% of homes worth less than $200,000 were underwater as of the end of March, according to CoreLogic, a real-estate information firm. Meanwhile, just 6% of homes worth more than $200,000 were underwater during the same period.
MORE #paywall

Underwater Homeowners Concentrate in Minority Neighborhoods


Ga Tech professor, Dan Immergluck shares his research on neighborhood recovery

(Wall Street Journal) Though home prices are generally rising nationwide, lower-value neighborhoods have a concentration of homeowners who still owe more than their homes are worth. For the past few years, researchers have been following a related trend: The foreclosure crisis, while healing, is still ongoing in many parts of the country where homeowners are predominately black or populated by other minority groups.


Georgia Tech professor Dan Immergluck, who has studied the issue in Atlanta, during the crisis many black neighborhoods saw values drop the most sharply. Some researchers have said lenders targeted such neighborhoods during the boom with high-cost, and sometimes predatory, loans. That led the to a greater concentration of foreclosures in many minority neighborhoods, leading to a cycle of vacancies, decaying housing stock and more foreclosures.  MORE

Homeownership Rates at Historic Lows; Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies Annual Report Released


(Courtesy of JCHS at Harvard): The fledgling U.S. housing recovery lost momentum last year as homeownership rates continued to fall, single-family construction remained near historic lows, and existing home sales cooled, concludes The State of the Nation's Housing report released today by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. In contrast, rental markets continued to grow, fueled by another large increase in the number of renter households. However, with rents rising and incomes well below pre-recession levels, the U.S. is also seeing record numbers of cost-burdened renters, including more renter households higher up the income scale. "Perhaps the most telling indicator of the state of the nation's housing is the drop in the homeownership rate to just 64.5 percent last year," says Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies. MORE


Number of Underwater Homeowners Decline but Many Still in Serious Dange


(Courtesy of Housing Wire): The number of borrowers who owe more on their home than it's worth is falling, but there are still a number of borrowers who face a severely steep climb to get out from under their home, according to a new report from Zillow.The rate of negative equity improved in all of the 35 largest housing markets in the first quarter of 2015, which Zillow says is a sign that the country is continuing to recover from the "lax lending rules" and crash of the housing market.But of those that are still underwater, over half - about 4 million owners - still owe 20% more than the value of their home, making it difficult for them to get out from under their mortgage.  The imbalance is even more pronounced in some markets. In Atlanta, 46% of low-end homeowners were underwater, compared with 10% of high-end homeowners.  Among the 35 largest housing markets, Las Vegas, Chicago and Atlanta had the highest rates of homeowners in negative equity, Zillow's report showed. MORE


U.S. Supreme Court Hands Defeat to Struggling Homeowners


(Courtesy of Market Watch): Underwater homeowners who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection are still on the hook for secondary loans tied to their properties, the Supreme Court said on June 1.  In a nine-to-zero decision, the court said in Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett that borrowers whose homes are completely underwater - debtors owe more on a mortgage than the home is worth - cannot void or "strip off" a junior lien when they file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A junior lien, such as a home-equity loan, is taken after a first mortgage, and uses a home as collateral. MORE  | OPINION  |  NYT OP-ED

Americans Believe Housing Crisis Continues


(Courtesy of MacArthur Foundation): A significant majority of Americans believes the country is still not past the housing crisis that began seven years ago, according to a new survey of housing attitudes released today by MacArthur. Despite some improvement in their view of the housing situation nationally, the enduring sense of the housing market under pressure is reflected in the public feeling more worried and concerned than hopeful and confident about what the future holds for the country. Americans believe it is harder than it used to be to attain a secure middle-class lifestyle and significantly more likely for a family to fall from the middle class than to join it.  MORE


Mixed Season for Metro Atlanta Home Buying Market


(Courtesy of AJC): The Atlanta housing market wobbled toward the end of the spring buying season with prices still rising solidly, but with sales volume slipping from a year earlier.  The median sale price of a home in metro Atlanta climbed to $240,000 in May, up 6.2 percent from April and 7.6 percent from a year ago, according to the Atlanta Board of Realtors. Sales volume rose 1 percent from April, but fell 3.3 percent from a year ago.  While some areas are hot, the overall climate is temperate and unlikely to change soon, said Charlotte Sears, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Atlanta. "I think everyone is in careful mode. And all the numbers that we see now point to modest growth over the next year or two."  The market's progress has been ragged - some areas booming, others struggling to shed the painful residue of recession. MORE #paywall 


Ron Terwilliger Launches Foundation to Promote More Effective Housing Policy


J. Ron Terwilliger
(Courtesy of Housing Matters): 
The J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America's Families, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting more effective national housing policy, is launching its inaugural initiative to bring housing policy issues to the forefront as the 2016 presidential race gets underway.  The Foundation wants to bring the "silent" housing crisis of rising rents and diminished access to homeownership into the national conversation.  MORE | RELATED



Urban Institute Updates Interactive Housing Affordability Map


(Courtesy of NHC and Urban Institute): The Urban Institute has released an update to their interactive Housing Affordability Map, searchable at the county level for data on housing affordability, with a focus on the number of units affordable for extremely low-income households.  In Fulton County, there are 29 adequate, affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income (ELI) households.   In DeKalb County, there are 14 units of available housing for every 100 ELI households. MORE


HUD Launches New Website for Housing Counseling Agencies


(Courtesy of HUD): The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today unveiled a new website specifically designed for HUD-approved housing counseling agencies, offering free on-line training covering a broad range of topics including responsibilities of homeownership and tenancy; avoiding foreclosure and eviction; financial management; and fair housing. The training is designed to help prepare housing counselors for the upcoming, mandatory HUD-certified counselor examination. MORE


Paying off the Mortgage Harder for Older Workers


(Courtesy of NCRC and New York Times): Older workers, stung by a punishing decline in house prices or high consumer debt, are increasingly unable to pay off their mortgages and are heading into their retirement years with substantial amounts outstanding. They have also been hit by unexpected expenses, layoffs, accumulated credit card bills or college loans, leaving them unable to pay off their single biggest debt unless they work longer, downsize or rely on other borrowing for the monthly payments. MORE


New Forms Make Mortgage Paperwork More Transparent for Consumers


(Courtesy of NCRC and New York Times): New rules and forms aimed at making mortgage information easier for borrowers to understand are scheduled to debut on Aug. 1.  The new forms are aimed at making it simpler for consumers to understand and compare loan terms, and to spot whether final terms are significantly different from a lender's initial estimate. MORE


Fully Using HUD VASH to End Veteran Homelessness


(Courtesy of US Interagency Council on Homelessness): In April, HUD and VA announced over 9,300 new tenant-based HUD-VASH vouchers, for a total of 79,000 HUD-VASH vouchers now allocated to VA Medical Centers and Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) across the country.

Now it is up to partners at the community level, with Federal support, to put them to full use. Doing so requires communities to identify all eligible Veterans with high service needs, especially those experiencing chronic homelessness, and refer them to the HUD-VASH program.  HUD's Office of Public & Indian Housing recently published a letter highlighting strategies that PHAs can pursue to improve HUD-VASH voucher utilization. Although aimed at PHAs, all partners engaged in the community efforts to end Veteran homelessness, including Continuums of Care, VA Medical Centers, and other community partners, should understand these strategies and collaborate with their PHAs to advance their efforts of ending Veteran homelessness. MORE


Piece by Piece Receives 2015 Housing Visionary Award


ANDP CEO John O'Callaghan accepts NHC award.

(Courtesy of Saporta Report, David Pendered): Piece by Piece received a national award Thursday for its comprehensive approach that brings together 155 public and private partners.  The National Housing Conference presented its 2015 Housing Visionary Award to the program during NHC's annual gala in Washington. Piece by Piece is staffed by the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc.  "NHC is pleased to recognize ANDP and Piece by Piece for their work in stabilizing metro Atlanta neighborhoods and for crafting a unique partnership that engages hundreds of organizations and neighborhood leaders in the effort," NHC President Chris Estes said in a statement. MORE




Share your calendar items with us! Please email Susan Adams at with news of your upcoming events.


June 27 & August 22; 10:00 am - 2:00 pm H.O.P.E. For Homeowners. Housing Outreach and Public Education; A series of housing events to educate Clayton County residents about available assistance options. 

July 8; 1pm - 2pm - Webinar "Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration and Homelessness Among Veterans" hosted by US Interagency Council on Homelessness. REGISTER


July 281:00 pm - 2:00 pm,  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Webinar for Housing Counselors on the New Mortgage Disclosure Forms; "Know Before You Owe"; Join presenters from the CFPB's Office of Mortgage Markets and Office of Regulations for an overview of the Know Before You Owe Mortgage Rule - also known as the Truth in Lending Act and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (TILA-RESPA) Integrated Disclosure Rule and the complimentary tools and resources. To RSVP, submit questions or for more information contact: Alicia at MORE | Know before you owe



HomeSafe Georgia representatives will be at the following events to discuss their federally funded mortgage assistance program that helps homeowners avoid foreclosure. 

HomeSafe Georgia is a free, state government program to help homeowners who are unemployed, underemployed or face other types of financial hardships save their homes from foreclosure.  There is no cost to apply and no fee if you are approved.          


A homeowner who has experienced a financial hardship within the last 36 months i.e. hardship associated with loss of job, military service, death of a spouse, or medical hardship may be eligible for HomeSafe Georgia assistance.    We encourage potential eligible homeowners to attend one of the events. 


Churches, clubs and community organizations are encouraged to inform others about the above events and to help those without internet access to apply for these funds. For more information, please visit



June 2015


-9th Annual Career Fair, June 25, 2015; 1-4 PM; Georgia Regents University, Christenberry Field House, 3109 Wrightsboro Road, Augusta


-H.O.P.E for Homeowners, June 27, 2015; 10 AM - 2 PM; Virginia Gray Recreation Center, 1475 E. Fayetteville Road, Riverdale;


July 2015


-Savannah Area Hurricane Preparedness Expo, July 11, 2015; 9 AM - 1 PM; The Home Depot, 1901 E. Victory Drive, Savannah;


-2015 CareerFest/Job Fair, July 16, 2015; 10 AM - 2 PM; Norcross First United Methodist Church, 2500 Beaver Ruin Road, Norcross;


-North Georgia Job Fair, July 25, 2015; 10 AM - 2 PM; Free Chapel, 3001 McEver Road, Gainesville



September 25: The 2015 Neighborhood Summit will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at the Georgia International Convention Center.  The 2015 Neighborhood Summit theme is "Embracing the Power of Education."  The Neighborhood Summit is presented by The Neighborhood Fund, an initiative of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.  MORE


Susan Adams

Piece by Piece Coordinator