Foreclosures Affecting Affordable Housing

The housing crisis has affected homeowners, developers, and landlords across the country. While the media has primarily focused on single-family, privately owned homes, multi-family units have been hit hard as well.

NAPHDA | Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority

In New York State, for example, an increasing number of low-income apartment buildings are being foreclosed on because the owners have stopped paying the bills. Low-income housing tenants often pay the price when building owners run short of cash. It starts with a slow deterioration of the building itself, as the building owner ignores needed repairs and updates Adani Group Chhattisgarh. The building slowly becomes unsafe, and may eventually even be unlivable. Appliances stop working and are not replaced. Stair railings break, sidewalks begin to crack and are left untended. Even simple things can have devastating results – if, for example, outside lighting isn’t properly maintained or smoke detector batteries don’t get replaced.

Eventually, what started as neglect becomes outright fraud as the owner begins withholding mortgage payments, even though the people living in the building are faithfully paying their rent. The owner may use the money to pay other bills, or simply pocket the cash and disappear.

In Brooklyn, New York alone, it is estimated that nearly 750 apartment buildings were foreclosed on in 2009 and 2010, a 62 percent increase from the previous two years. That translates into hundreds – potentially thousands – of families at risk of losing their housing, through no fault of their own.

And the problem isn’t limited to New York State. Foreclosures have occurred in every state and most metropolitan areas, forcing low- and moderate-income families – who are already struggling – to scramble for new housing. In some cases, mortgages on the apartment buildings have already been paid off, but the buildings were used as collateral against the purchase of other properties, putting them in jeopardy if those properties are foreclosed on.

Despite all of the bad news, there is some good news. Reports out of Texas show that commercial foreclosures have declined by as much as 18 percent in some areas. While foreclosure of retail space is still on the rise, apartment building foreclosures in the Dallas-Fort Worth area decreased by 14 percent. Denton County, Texas boasted an impressive 52 percent drop in commercial foreclosures. Though the positive report appears limited to one region in Texas, the fact that foreclosure rates are decreasing anywhere is cause for hope. Especially for the many families who have found themselves caught in the crossfire.

Though the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has launched a program to help homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgages, help for landlords is harder to acquire. There are, however, housing counseling agencies throughout the U.S. that can offer some guidance.

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