Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland “Getting Back in Gear” Summit Draws Crowds

Activists, experts and people seeking to learn more about stalled and vacant foreclosures filled the tenth floor of The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland for the Getting Back in Gear Summit last month.  The topic was so popular that another 100+ people streamed the Summit live.
The Summit focused on a very specific question: What do communities do with vacant and abandoned homes wherein the bank or mortgage company never completed a foreclosure? Often, these homeowners vacated the property under the impression they had already lost their home to the bank, which holds the lien and is ultimately responsible for keeping the property secure.
Getting Back in Gear
This is the vexing question: why didn’t the bank actually initiate or complete the foreclosure?  When the cost of the foreclosure procedure is higher than the value of the property itself, banks often choose not to proceed.
Vacant and stalled foreclosures are a lose – lose for everyone.  As a home sits vacant, it becomes dilapidated due to lack of care, lowering the safety and security of the neighborhood and the value of surrounding homes.  Combined, these factors have negative impacts across the community. 

The first panel, consisting of Daren Blomquist, Vice President of Realty Trac, and A. Nicole Clowers, Director of the Government Accounting Office, defined the problem.  According to their data, 21% of all foreclosures currently in progress across the country are vacant of which Ohio has a significant number.
On the featured panel, Gus Frangos, President and General Counsel of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, Frank Ford from Thriving Communities Institute, Craig Nickerson from the National Community Stabilization Trust and Spencer Cowan from the Woodstock Institute discussed local responses to stalled and vacant foreclosures.
One such response is the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s
partnerships with Fannie Mae, HUD, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, wherein the Cuyahoga Land Bank in its partnerships receive properties held by these institutions and move them back into productive use either through renovation or demolition.  The Cuyahoga Land Bank has acquired more than 2,250 properties as a result of such agency agreements.

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