Friday, November 14, 2008

Government Buyout South Florida

Federal grants to be used to buy up South Florida foreclosures

South Florida governments are gearing up to spend more than $161 million in federal grant money to stimulate the housing market.


The buyer of that ramshackle foreclosure down the street just might be the government.
In coming months, South Florida cities and counties will be armed with more than $161 million in new federal grant money and a mandate to stabilize falling home values and decay in neighborhoods hardest hit by the real estate downturn.
Their spending plans include buying and rehabbing, reselling or renting out property repossessed by banks through foreclosure, a first for many small municipalities without housing authorities. Cities may also use money to develop new projects and tear down neighborhood eyesores.

Miami Gardens' plans include using homes to help young adults aging out of foster care. Miramar wants to give financial aid to middle-income home buyers.
Hialeah wants to build more $300-a-month rental units. And Miami-Dade plans to use some money on the once fraud-wracked redevelopment of the Scott Carver housing project in Liberty City.

The funds represent South Florida's share of a $3.9 billion pot offered as part of a larger housing stimulus plan passed by Congress this summer.
The stimulus money comes as the state's housing market continues to slog along under historic foreclosure rates, unsold homes and growing economic malaise. In all, Florida will get $541 million, with $91 million going to state government.

When it comes to house hunting, governments don't lack for choices. As of Oct. 31, banks owned 10,725 homes in Miami-Dade and 10,234 in Broward, according to RealtyTrac data released Thursday.

And foreclosures keep rising: In October, foreclosures were up 53 percent in Broward and 97 percent in Miami-Dade over a year ago, RealtyTrac reported. The figures mean one of every 114 homes in Broward is either headed into foreclosure or already bank-owned. In Miami-Dade, it's one of every 93 homes.

Lenders have already begun knocking on doors at Miami-Dade agencies, county officials said. The county will get $62.2 million, the largest share of any locality in the country.
''This is not a whole lot of money in reality, but I think there will be a whole broad spectrum of people we can help. The magnitude of the problem is really huge,'' said Robert Cruz, chief economist for Miami-Dade.


Housing administrators' tentative plan is to spend almost $37 million buying bank-owned single- and multi-family properties, hoping to add roughly 342 new units to its affordable housing stock. The county now owns 10,000 units. There are 71,000 people on the waiting list for those as well as privately owned units through Section 8.
The rest will be spent demolishing 80 blighted structures as well as on homeownership counseling and mortgage assistance for about 130 families. The county will leverage nearly $9 million for infrastructure needed to complete work on the Scott Carver HOPE VI housing project, which will help bring 236 new units online when finished. In all, they expect to directly aid 1,500 families.
The County Commission will vote on the plan next Thursday. Broward approved its plan Thursday.

Comment on this article to:
John Holbrook
Prudential Chaplin Williams Realty

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