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March 2011 - Foreclosure Response

In the Toolbox

This issue of In Focus highlights guidance and tools for communities struggling with foreclosures and the stabilization of neighborhoods with high levels of foreclosures. Foreclosures affect more than just the displaced homeowners or renters. When foreclosures lead to vacant, dilapidated properties, the ripple effects extend to neighbors, neighborhoods, municipalities, and beyond. There are a wide range of tools available to help communities prevent, reduce, or resolve problems related to foreclosures.’s companion site, provides a policy timeline that shows an array of state and local policies that can help before, during, and after foreclosure. now includes new examples and updated guidance on securing and maintaining foreclosed properties including high impact approaches to code enforcement, vacant property registration, and artistic boarding. These policies can reduce foreclosures’ ripple effects and help communities’ neighborhood stabilization dollars go further. Many of the policies work in tight budgetary environments and can even save money.

The site also provides maps and data that communities can use to set priorities and address foreclosures comprehensively and strategically. is a project of the Center for Housing Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the Urban Institute.

Explore the Updated Policy Guide

"Out Loud" Podcast

This month's Out Loud podcast features an interview with Housing Commissioner Paul Graziano and Deputy Commissioner, Michael Braverman of Baltimore Housing. Laura Williams, research associate at the Center for Housing Policy, talks to Graziano and Braverman about the Vacants to Value program that has been launched to reclaim thousands of vacant and underutilized properties in the city. The guest speakers provide detail on code enforcement and other strategies they have adopted to streamline the process of reclaiming properties and holding owners accountable for their property.

Listen to the Podcast

Solutions in Action

Population decline and job loss in the City of Baltimore over the last 50 years has contributed to large-scale property abandonment and blight. With 16,000 vacant and abandoned properties throughout the city, Baltimore Housing has launched the Vacants to Value program, a multi-pronged approach to rehabilitate vacant and abandoned properties, and in some cases, reuse them for non-housing purposes. The program has implemented several policy changes and approaches to achieve its goal that include: streamlining property disposition and code enforcement policies, encouraging private investment in emerging markets near neighborhoods showing strength, providing incentives to potential homebuyers, supporting large-scale development projects, and identifying non-housing uses for properties in distressed areas, such as community gardens.

Learn More about this Solution in Action

New Resources Help Communities Set Neighborhood Stabilization Priorities

New resources on are available to help communities make strategic decisions about where and how to target their limited neighborhood stabilization resources.

Share Your Story

Shared equity homeownership is often used in high-cost communities where home prices are rising significantly faster than incomes. However, many communities with more modest home price increases use shared equity approaches effectively. Among other applications, communities can use shared equity programs to help stabilize and revitalize high-poverty neighborhoods, particularly those that have been hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

How has your community used community land trusts (CLTs) and other shared equity homeownership programs in lower cost, blighted areas? What other considerations, benefits and challenges are involved in using CLTs and similar programs in this context?

Join our Shared Equity Homeownership discussion group on the Forum to respond to this question or add your own. Share your experiences with fellow housing practitioners across the country!

Visit the Forum to Share Your Story


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The Market Strength/Foreclosure Risk matrix, an accompanying guide, and interactive maps can help communities assess the relative housing market strength and foreclosure risk level for all census tracts within a metropolitan area and use that knowledge to adopt strategic neighborhood stabilization plans. The matrix, available as a downloadable Excel file, groups census tracts by their combined housing market strength and foreclosure risk levels based on LISC’s housing market index and foreclosure risk scores.

The preparation of these resources was supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Help using these tools is available by contacting the team.

Click Here to Access the Resources

Featured Gallery Entry:

27 Elm Street, Madison, NJ

Photo Credit: Madison Affordable Housing Corporation


February 2011:
Shared Equity Homeownership
November 2010:
Employer-Assisted Housing
September 2010:
Rental Housing Preservation
July 2010:
Improve Residential Energy Efficiency
May 2010 -
Disaster Resistant Housing
April 2010 -
In Focus: Housing Solutions Week Recap
December 2009 - In Focus: Coordinated Housing and Transportation Policies
September 2009 -
In Focus: Shared Equity Homeownership and Asset Building
July 2009 -
In Focus: Post-Conference Edition
April 2009 - In Focus: Learning Conference
March 2009- In Focus: Neighborhood Stabilization
December 2008- In Focus: Neighborhood Stabilization
November 2008-- In Focus: Neighborhood Stabilization
October 2008-- In Focus: Transit-Oriented Development
September 2008-- In Focus: Inclusionary Zoning
August 2008 -- In Focus: Rental Housing Preservation
July 2008-- In Focus: Shared Equity Homeownership
June 2008 -- In Focus: Green Affordable Housing -- This issue of In Focus kicked off a series of Six Housing Policies for a World of High Energy Costs
May 2008 -- In Focus: Foreclosure Prevention
April 2008 -- In Focus: Employer-Assisted Housing
February 2008
-- was launched in January 2008 as part of Housing Solutions Week. Click here to view materials from the week.