In an effort to battle the ongoing foreclosure crisis, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development will assign grants to cities and states totaling nearly $4 billion. Pittsburgh will receive $2 million under the program.
Steve Preston, the secretary for HUD, said that the $3.9 billion will be given to cities and states to help them buy foreclosed properties so that they will not become blighted. By acting quickly now, many cities and states can avoid the economic impact that comes with abandoned properties.
“To those areas trying to recover from the effects of foreclosure and declining property values, help is on the way,” Preston said. “Clearly, the intent is to put this money to work in communities with the highest need and to have meaningful impact. Now the real work begins and HUD stands ready to support these states and communities as they work to stabilize their neighborhoods.”
Pittsburgh can use the money not just to purchase homes, but also demolish abandoned properties, provide closing cost assistance to low or mid-income homeowners and even offer down payments. The grants also allow Pittsburgh to manage vacant land as well.
Cities and states must assign their share of the money to specific tasks within 18 months.
HUD based their numbers the percentage of foreclosures among properties in the area, the number of troubled mortgages and the number of homes in default or in delinquency.
Pennsylvania is slated to get almost $60 million, while Philadelphia gets the most of any Pennsylvania city at $16.8 million. Allegheny County will receive $5.5 million.
Although Pittsburgh has seen its shares of foreclosures, it has avoided the steep increases seen in other areas of the country and the state.
For the first eight months of the year, the five-county region saw 3,220 homes go into foreclosure. That is just 11 more than January-august of 2007. The news is mixed for the various counties as Allegheny and beaver foreclosures are down for the year 4.9 percent and 13.9 percent respectively, while butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties are all up.
In Allegheny County, foreclosures fell 14.8 percent for the first 8 months of the year over 2007, a sign that foreclosures in the area may be slowing.
“This is good news for the region in today’s sea of bad news. With another drop expected in September, we’ll have a full quarter of a year-over-year fewer foreclosures,” Said Daniel Murrer, vice president of RealSTATs, a real estate information company. “At least in the realm of residential foreclosures, Pittsburgh may be turning a corner.”