Fighting Blight

As we say good-bye to 2017 and we set our sights on 2018 and beyond there are always a number of articles on predictions for the New Year and trends that will be taking place. This not only occurs on a grand consumer scale, but also in niche industries such as asset and default management.

In 2017 we experienced historically low foreclosure rates with many industry experts predicting those levels to remain pretty constant in 2018. With so much talk and articles being written about foreclosures reaching historical lows, many people falsely believe that our work is done. This is one thought and trend that could not be further from the truth.

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Foreclosures are still taking place, individuals are struggling to pay their taxes, and communities are forced to deal with vacant properties and the negative impact they have on our communities. Yes, we have come a long way over the past couple of years- but our work in helping restore communities is far from over.

Blight is real and continues to plague communities nationwide. Municipalities across the country are working to turn the page on the housing market collapse and address the ongoing concerns of community blight. The negative impact has been well documented that blight has on communities. These include: abandoned buildings and vacant properties, which create opportunities for crime, violence, drugs and other illegal activity.

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Blight has additional adverse effects on communities besides crime, such as a decline in property values, lower tax base and heavy burdens on the resources of municipalities. These challenges are real and will not go away just because foreclosures are declining.

The goal in 2018 is to make these communities Safe, Sound and Secure. It starts by helping to restore these communities one property at a time. To accomplish this, there needs to be collaboration amongst mortgage servicers, municipalities, local governments, policymakers, state and federal regulators, contractors and vendors who have boots on the ground and the individuals living in these neighborhoods.

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It is clear that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to blight doesn’t work. There are some over-arching strategies such as clear boarding, improved vacant property registration, and new regulations from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that can be applied across the country to help reduce blight.

The key to successfully fighting blight is collaboration between the parties listed above to create individualized community programs- that increase awareness of blight, leverage skills and expertise, and pull together resources for the common good.

As we close out 2017 and prepare for 2018, let’s not forget that there is still a great need to come together to fight and eliminate blight in our communities.

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