Tiffany Thomas-Smith is Deputy Press Secretary at HUD; Andrea Risotto is Spokeswoman for the Making Home Affordable Program at the Treasury Department
Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued the July Housing Scorecard and monthly Making Home Affordable Program Performance Report. Included in the release was the second in a series of bi-monthly profiles about local housing markets across the country. This month’s spotlight is on the recovery in the Riverside, California metropolitan statistical area (MSA).
The Riverside MSA (which encompasses most of what is commonly referred to as California’s “Inland Empire”) has been one of the hardest-hit areas in the country in the housing market downturn. The mortgage crisis in Riverside and many other parts of California is unique—both in the sheer magnitude of the problem and the severity of decline in property values. Many homeowners in the Riverside MSA struggle with “underwater” mortgages—mortgages where the unpaid balance on the mortgage is higher than the home’s worth. Additionally, while many parts of the country are seeing job growth, the unemployment rate in the Riverside MSA is far higher than the national average—averaging 14.2 percent in the past year through May 2011. As a result, homeowners in the cities of Riverside and San Bernardino have struggled with some of the highest levels of mortgage delinquency and foreclosure in the nation.
For these reasons, the Riverside MSA represents a region where the Administration’s efforts to strengthen the housing market have been quite active. And despite the difficult challenges the area is facing, the benefits of these programs can already be seen. CoreLogic data shows that the share of mortgages 90 or more days delinquent dropped from 17 percent to 12 percent over the past year—an even larger decrease than the national decline from 8 percent to 7 percent.
Here are a few ways the Administration’s programs are working to help homeowners:
- The Administration’s mortgage assistance programs have already helped tens of thousands of Riverside families. Through May 2011, approximately 131,000 mortgage assistance interventions have been offered to homeowners in the Riverside metropolitan area, including more than 75,500 interventions offered through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and FHA loss mitigation and early delinquency intervention programs. Riverside homeowners in HAMP permanent modifications have reduced their mortgage burden by a median of $677 every month—a savings of 39 percent from their previous payment. While some homeowners may have received help from more than one program, the number of times assistance has been offered is two-thirds higher than the number of foreclosures completed in this period.
- HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) is helping to stabilize local communities. Approximately $191 million has been awarded to sixteen jurisdictions in the Riverside MSA through the NSP to help purchase or redevelop residential properties and address the effects of abandoned and foreclosed housing. For example, the City of San Bernardino has used NSP funds for a project that will rehabilitate 25 distressed fourplex properties to turn them into affordable family rental units. The City of Desert Hot Springs is using NSP funds to finish construction on a 60-unit apartment complex, which will be used to house very low-income and low-income residents.
- With support from the Hardest Hit Fund, CalHFA launched Keep Your Home California to provide additional assistance to struggling California homeowners. The CalHFA Mortgage Assistance Corporation has received almost $2 billion in funds from the Hardest Hit Fund to implement Keep Your Home California to help homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments avoid preventable foreclosures. With these funds, CalHFA will implement four different initiatives, including an Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program to assist homeowners who have experienced involuntary job loss, and a Principal Reduction Program to assist homeowners with an economic hardship who have also seen a severe decline in their home’s value. All major national servicers are participating in at least one of the Keep Your Home California programs.
While there is no easy answer to the housing crisis, it is important for homeowners in Riverside and across the country to know that there are more options to avoid foreclosure today than there have ever been before.
If you are a California homeowner who believes you may be eligible for assistance, you can learn more at MakingHomeAffordable.gov or by calling 888-995-HOPE (4673). Homeowners interested in the Keep Your Home California program can call 888-954-KEEP (5337).