|Volume 8, Issue 1, 2008||Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas|
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San Antonio Tackles Foreclosure
A look-to city for programs to help low- and moderate-income working families build assets, San Antonio has taken on the challenge of homeownership preservation.
In mid-2007, San Antonio leaders recognized a foreclosure problem in their area. In June, Michael Goeken, director of the city's Department of Community Initiatives (DCI), attended the Preserving Homeownership conference hosted by the Dallas Fed in partnership with the Dallas Field Office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After learning about alternatives to foreclosure, Goeken returned to San Antonio and wrote a grant proposal to the Annie E. Casey Foundation for program funding. The grant was funded, and the city now leads 24 organizations, including HUD and United Way, in the San Antonio Foreclosure Prevention Task Force with targeted outreach to sustain homeownership in the San Antonio area.
DCI mailed 14,500 postcards to homeowners in targeted ZIP codes with the following message printed in English and Spanish: "Don't lose your home. You are not alone. We can help!" The postcard included the phone number to DCI's Housing Counseling program to call for help or more information. The postcard mailing generated over 250 calls from San Antonio residents concerned about their mortgage situation.
In March, a statewide group helped kick off the local team's plans. The Texas Foreclosure Prevention Task Force (TFPTF) held a news conference at City Hall to announce formation of the statewide task force and promote the Homeownership Preservation Foundation's toll-free help hotline, 888-995-HOPE. Approximately 50 organizations were represented at the news conference, which received media coverage on local TV and radio. The goals of the TFPTF press conference were to show San Antonio homeowners a sampling of the organizations standing by ready to help and to encourage homeowners to call their lender, a housing counselor or the HOPE hotline for help at the first signs of trouble.
To leverage the press coverage of that event, DCI and the local task force held a community workshop on the Saturday after the news conference. The workshop was held at Northwest Vista College, which saddles two of the ZIP codes with the highest foreclosure rates in San Antonio. Several lenders who are active in the area sent workshop invitations to their San Antonio borrowers who were 60 days or more delinquent on their mortgage loan.
Fifty homeowners attended the workshop and met with a variety of lenders and loan servicers. Attendees also were able to meet with HUD-approved, nonprofit housing counselors and representatives from six mortgage lenders who are active in the area. DCI housing counselors trained to assist homeowners in finding alternatives also participated in the workshop as well as counseling staff from the local Neighborhood Housing Services office. Feedback from the lenders present indicated that at least eight potential workouts resulted from the workshop.
A second workshop is scheduled for July 12 and will be hosted in conjunction with the Alamo Area Council of Governments on the city's north side. The Alamo Area group will invite residents from its neighboring communities to the north of San Antonio, such as Boerne, New Braunfels, Schertz and Seguin.
e-Perspectives, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2008