GA HOME SAFE – New Program

Important HomeSafe Georgia News

On September 28th the Georgia Department of Community Affairs announced the launch of Underwater Georgia, a new HomeSafe initiative specifically targeted to the approximately 150,000 Georgians who owe more than their homes are worth. Homeowners approved through Underwater Georgia can receive a one-time payment of up to $50,000 to reduce the principal balance on their home. In addition to providing information about Underwater Georgia – without doubt the most significant and potentially impactful HomeSafe program modification to date – this document also chronicles other important activity associated with HomeSafe that has occurred since the January 2016 publication of HomeSafe Georgia – Making the Most of a Valuable Resource, which documented and analyzed HomeSafe’s application intake, approval and disbursement history and made recommendations for program modification and expansion.

[1] Information in this section from DCA Memo: New Mortgage Assistance program to Launch September 28th, and Underwater Georgia Mortgage Principal Reduction Aid Communications Toolkit, September 22, 2106.
[2] See Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, https://www.sigtarp.gov/Audit%20Engagement%20Memorandums/Engagement_Memo_GA_Hardest_Hit_Fund_Audit.pdf, September 12, 2016.
[3] See Atlanta Journal Constitution, http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2016/09/13/feds-to-audit-foreclosure-aid-program-in-several-atlanta-area-counties/, by Tamar Hallerman, September 13, 2016.
[4] See http://www.housingwire.com/articles/36326-treasury-boosting-hardest-hit-fund-by-2-billion-extends-program-to-2020 (HousingWire, Treasury Boosting Hardest Hit Funds by $2 billion, Ben Lane, February 19, 2016) and See https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl0434.aspx (US Treasury, Treasury Announces Allocation of Final $1 Billion Among Hardest Hit Fund States, April 20, 2016).

William H. McFarland
Relationship Manager, Georgia ACT
Project Director, Housing Georgia
404 – 586 -0740 (office)
404-790-6607 (cell)

Georgia Counselors and others

See the below, this is not our first time hearing this call to organize!

We all can recognize that federal funding will not be the growth engine
of housing counseling going forward. A number of states and localities have developed
valuable models for collaboration where housing counseling groups collaborate to develop joint programs, training, and funding sources.
NHRC is launching a series of discussions aimed at encouraging and supporting local collaborative efforts.

Our first will be on Tuesday, October 4 at 4:00 pm ET, 1:00 pm PT. We will feature the experiences and lessons learned from the New York State collaborative efforts, which have leveraged powerful relationships with the state attorney general, legal assistance groups, housing advocates, and others to generate valuable funding, programs, and training for housing counselors throughout the state. We will have discussions with representatives from HomeSmartNY, Empire Justice Center, Center for New York City Neighborhoods and others on how to make collaboration work.

Please register and join us for this important, beginning discussion:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2361981151818306564

Also, please feel free to share this invitation with others who you feel will be interested in local collaboration. We are trying to build a list of counselors who are interested in helping build more collaborative efforts.

Bruce


Bruce Dorpalen
National Housing Resource Center
846 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

http://www.hsgcenter.org
bdorpalen@hsgcenter.org
215 765-0048

A skimmer’s guide to ‘What It’s Worth’

Excerpts from What It’s Worth: Food for Thought (Part 1)

Pam Bailey, NeighborWorks America blogger | 1/3/2016 7:49:00 PM
The Great Recession dramatically demonstrated how extraordinarily vulnerable the majority of Americans are—not just those who already were precarious even before the housing bubble burst, but also so many others who are “keeping it together” on the surface, but are actually in danger of teetering over the edge with an unexpected provocation. Cover of the book, "What It's Worth"

At the level of the individual and family, the consequence of poor financial health is catastrophic. But the collective size of this malaise (70 percent of U.S. households are savings-limited, income-constrained or debt-challenged) should be downright alarming for the nation. Jared Bernstein from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities writes in the new book, “What’ It’s Worth” that there is “strong evidence that inequality, income stagnation and under-regulated finance interact in ways that have led to bubbles and busts that damage the larger economy.”
That’s one reason why NeighborWorks America has chosen to focus on “creating economic opportunities” in 2016, focusing all four of its Wednesday symposia at its training institutes on different aspects of the theme. It’s also why our CEO Paul Weech contributed a chapter, and why we believe “What It’s Worth” is such an important book to read and share far and wide. (It does for financial capability what we plan to do for community development in our own book, to be released in December.)

Because it is long, and also to whet your appetite, I thought I would share my “CliffsNotes” version of a few of the suggested solutions to various aspects of the financial crisis among America’s communities and families, which will hopefully stimulate discussion and debate (and lead you to puruse the full book for more detail). Note that for purposes of this summary, I focus on those that do not involve federal or state policy changes, or modification in the way financial institutions operate. Below is the first installment, followed by two more!

Findings from the ‘Diaries’

From Jennifer Tescher, Center for Financial Services Innovation, and Rachel Schneider, Center for Financial Services Innovation: “The Real Financial Lives of Americans

Schneider is one of the coordinators of the U.S. Financial Diaries project, which was featured at NeighborWorks’ August training institute on “Building Pathways to Financial Resilience.” She and Tescher offer several key observations that are important for those offering financial education and coaching:

  • Cash flow is as important an indicator as annual income. Households with seemingly sufficient income get into trouble when the timing of their expenses don’t match the inflow of funds. For families participating in the diaries project, about 60 percent of spending spikes were not accompanied by an income spike in the same month. One-quarter of expense spikes occurred when a household’s income was below its median.
  • Access to financial services (facilitating bank accounts as an alternative to payday loans) is important but insufficient.
  • Borrowing and saving are opposite sides of the same coin. What the authors mean by this is that the cheapest possible access to funds is not the sole determinant of why people choose to borrow vs. save, although that is the criterion traditional economists expect them to use. For example, although the use of personal savings is free, they require self-discipline to accumulate and provide the peace of mind that comes with knowing the funds are there. Thus, some people will borrow even when it doesn’t appear to make sense, just to preserve that “security blanket.” In contrast, sometimes people borrow for nonessential purchases, in return for the immediate gratification and the ability to build a credit history—despite the fact that it comes with a fee and the anxiety of a future obligation. The bottom line: When deciding when to borrow or save, people appear to take both the psychological and financial cost into account.
  • Financial progress is complex, unpredictable, and often messy. Practitioners tend to look at household savings balances over time, caution the authors, and are disappointed when they don’t see steady growth. However, looking at point-in-time savings balances or expecting a constant upward trajectory misses the fact that people are indeed saving.

Continue reading

Making the Mortgage Process Easier…..

The new mortgage disclosure rule will go into effect on October 3rd. This rule is part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Know Before You Owe mortgage initiative that will help consumers with the often stressful task of searching for the right mortgage loan. As part of the housing counseling community, you play an important role in helping consumers throughout the home buying process.

Click here to download a toolkit for resources you can use with your clients and suggested social messaging.

The Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule makes it easier to understand these disclosures by:

  • Streamlining four disclosure forms into two – the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure
  • Standardizing the information to obtain Loan Estimates
  • Giving potential borrowers time to review and understand their mortgage terms before signing on the dotted line

Make sure to take the time to review the site and share these resources.

A Call to Action by Georgia ACT

Last month Fannie Mae announced its new affordable mortgage product, HomeReadyTM, which replaces MyCommunityMortgage. Targeted to low- and moderate-income borrowers, it requires an online homebuyer education course. Called Framework, the course will be provided by Housing Partnership Network and the Minnesota Homeownership Center.  Although this is a notable step forward in making housing counseling more accessible to potential buyers, what impact will this have on local housing counseling agencies?

Does this move by Fannie Mae and a similar move by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta portend a change in the landscape?  Is housing counseling undergoing a transformation as counseling moves to online sources?  National online alternative options such as ClearPoint and Framework appear to offer 24/7 access, standardization, quality assurance, and low cost. Technology and online platforms are changing housing counseling processes from intake to service delivery, so what is the role of local nonprofit agencies? How can such agencies remain viable?

The Georgia ACT conference on October 28th offers housing counselors the opportunity to convene and discuss how best to adapt to this changing environment.  Registration is now open. Go to http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=64yzoxjab&oeidk=a07ebgxzs3ed7e957ad

GA ACT Survey – Please Complete by 9/15/15

Good Afternoon, Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. is a statewide membership organization dedicated to building a strong network of housing and community development organizations to benefit lower-income Georgians and underserved communities. We act as a clearinghouse for information and action to advance the field of housing and community economic development through our annual conference, training, peer mentoring, and advocacy on public policy. Your participation in this survey is critical to supporting the future growth and stability of the nonprofit housing and community development sector and the ability to compete in the face of diminished resources. This survey will give us a snapshot of your organization’s current position and abilities. We will use this information to create support for increased capital resources and for industry policies that enable greater community impact. You should be able to complete this survey in 20 minutes. If you get interrupted, you can save your completed responses and come back to finish the survey. Having the following information available may help you complete the survey quickly: · Housing development portfolio · Most recent 990 · Housing counseling/financial literacy data We need your completed survey by Friday, August 14, 2015. Follow the link below to take the survey today and help us show collective impact! Start Survey Thank You Kate Little Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. 250 Georgia Avenue, SE, Suite 350 Atlanta, GA 30312 404/586-0740 klittle@georgiaact.org We have moved. Please note new address and email.

Atlanta foreclosures down, still high

Foreclosures continue to decline in metro Atlanta, yet the region remains one of the nation’s leaders in the category. During the 12 months ending in May, there were 14,340 completed foreclosures in metro Atlanta, the second-highest number among big U.S. metro areas behind only Tampa-St. Petersburg at 17,044, according to CoreLogic, a California-based real estate research firm. Metro Atlanta’s total was down from more than 20,000 completed foreclosures in the prior 12-month period, according to CoreLogic.

The region’s progress tracks the trend in the national housing market, where completed foreclosures fell 19.2 percent from a year earlier. Among states, Georgia had the sixth -highest number at 26,523 completed foreclosures. The top five were Florida (104,000), Michigan (46,000), Texas (33,000), California (28,000) and Ohio (27,000).

Foreclosures became an epidemic after the burst of the housing bubble in 2006-2007, a collapse followed by plunging prices and a financial crisis that led to a devastating recession – which in further undermined housing.

A flood of foreclosures followed, virtually destroying the market for housing in many areas. Home values in many parts of metro Atlanta have yet to return to pre-recession levels. But as foreclosures recede, the market can build momentum. “With three million jobs created during the past year, the improving labor market has helped more borrowers stay current on their mortgage loan,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Because fewer loans are becoming seriously delinquent, the foreclosure inventory has come down to its lowest level in more than seven years, with only 1.3 percent of loans in foreclosure proceedings.” In metro Atlanta, 3.4 percent of mortgages are in serious delinquency, vs. 4.4 percent a year ago, according to CoreLogic.

Down but not OUT!