Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fighting Foreclosures!

Guest post by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Photos contributed by Dave Snyder.

I think we all pretty much know that north Minneapolis has been ravaged by foreclosures. The way I see it, it's no good to sit around and wonder why anybody isn't doing anything about it.

And committed residents and staffers throughout NoMi see things the same way. We formed the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), and we're getting out in the neighborhood and doing direct outreach to people at risk of foreclosures. We're meeting to do outreach on October 27, 5 p.m. at the Minneapolis Urban League. Here's how it works and how you can get involved...

NCRC consists of neighborhood groups like Hawthorne, Jordan, and Harrison; religious groups like Jewish Community Action (pictured above is Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman and NCRC staffer Marcus Harcus) and the MN State Baptists' Convention, and cultural groups like the Lao Assistance Center and the Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association. We work with services like Legal Aid and Habitat for Humanity to get both owners and renters referred to services that can protect them.

What makes NCRC unique is that we are doing targeted outreach to people most at risk of foreclosure, instead of just picking a block and going door-to-door. (The other picture above is of some NCRC volunteers in action) Earlier this year, we partnered with CURA to identify people in north Minneapolis whose adjustable rate mortgages were about to reset, and we sent letters and doorknocked them. Now we get lists of people in the very early stages of delinquency and go directly to those most at risk of slipping into foreclosure.

Sometimes those folks are caught back up on payments by the time we get to them, and a lot of the time there isn't anyone home so we leave fliers. When we do talk to people, we'll get them to Legal Aid for renters, and to foreclosure prevention counseling services for owners. That's the good news. The bad news is that we just don't have enough bodies to reach everyone at risk.

Since I'm a numbers guy, I'll toss out some very rough calculations: We usually go out in teams of two, and can hit about ten addresses an hour. So a two-hour session gets 20 doors per team. Out of those 20 households, about four go to counseling either because of direct conversation or because they received the literature we left them. So if we get twenty people (ten teams) out for two hours, that's 40 households that wind up at least contacting a foreclosure prevention service. The success rate (which could be better, especially if banks and lenders were more cooperative in loan modifications) there is about 60%, so that evening of outreach led to about 24 loan mods in our neighborhood.

Sounds great, right? Well, there are still hundreds of people we've identified as at risk of foreclosure and we just don't have the volunteers to reach them all. That's where YOU come in. We need you to join us at the Urban League, Tuesday October 27th, at 5 p.m. to hit the streets and connect people with services that will help them. We can even divide things up so that you go to the houses that are closest to you and you can help out your own neighborhood or block.

Let's get out there and get things done! I'll see you all on the 27th!


Anonymous said...

ALL of the volunteers investing of themselves in this program should be proud of what they're doing. Both for other residents and the community.

There's many good things happening in NOMI. These good things need to be brought to the forefront more often.

JNS Reader said...

Hey, Jeff. Heard you on MPR again on my way to work this morning. You're kind of becoming a local mortgage celebrity!

Anonymous said...

This is great news! With all the blogging lately in almost a triumphant tone of houses going down around the community, its great to hear the neighborhood is actually doing something to help out its neighbors too.

Anonymous said...

This sounds good... but I've heard that nobody is getting modifications anymore. Is that true?

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

@ Anon 10:58


You'll hear some people use (out of context) a number that only 16% of foreclosures in Minnesota have received loan modifications over the past year. First off, 16% is better than nobody, but it's misleading in that it doesn't take into account fraud or investor/speculator foreclosures that are ineligible for such programs in the first place.

I've seen plenty of coverage lately about poor responses from lenders when it comes to reasonable loan modifications, and I'm glad that's being pointed out. But people are still getting them, even when it takes too long or not enough modifications are being done.

There are also reports out showing the number of eligible loans being modified by big lenders such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America. And frankly, those numbers are dismal. Lenders MUST do a better job of modifying loans to keep people out of foreclosure.

NCRC is pressuring lenders to do just that, but while we get to that point people are still losing their homes. So come and join us on Tuesday! We'll get people into foreclosure prevention counseling and fight foreclosures on the street level.