Broward Foreclosure Panel Recommendations 2008

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Miami Herald (FL), Copyright 2008 The Miami Herald

June 25, 2008

HOUSING CRISIS: 'Road map' for foreclosure aid offered, GREG LINCH

A Broward task force charged with helping to prevent foreclosures came up with 23 recommendations.

Broward County has seen almost as many foreclosures in the first five months of this year as it did in all of 2007 — 13,944 through May this year, compared with a total of 14,079 last year, according to a report submitted to county commissioners on Tuesday.

The report includes 23 recommendations from the Broward Foreclosure Prevention Panel, authorized by the Broward County Commission in February. Recommendations by the 17-member task force include everything from educating the public to redirecting public money so cities can buy foreclosed properties.

Broward County Mayor Lois Wexler, the panel's chairwoman, hopes the suggestions will be treated as a "road map" by the county and Broward municipalities."I don't know that every recommendation can be done," she said. "But I do know that our goal was to primarily make sure that people in their primary residence who were in jeopardy were afforded resources, where to go for help and intervention."

$400,000 ALLOCATION

The county currently allocates about $400,000 each year for foreclosure assistance and six cities allocate a total of $335,000 for various foreclosure programs, according to the report. Those cities are Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miramar, Pembroke Pines and Plantation.

In one recommendation, the panel suggests that cities redirect state, federal and municipal funds to foreclosure intervention, default relief, property maintenance and buying foreclosed properties that could be used for affordable housing. The report lists several possible sources, including federal Housing and Urban Development grants, Community Development Block Grants and Community Redevelopment Agency funds.

The panel met in Fort Lauderdale every two weeks for the past three months before adopting the final report last week. With each meeting, more businesses, lenders, borrowers and others participated in the discussion, Wexler said. Panel members compiled a list of concerns and divided the topics among three committees.

Although the panel began by looking at primary residences that had been foreclosed upon, it also studied problems faced by renters in foreclosed buildings.  George Castrataro, a panel member who works for Legal Aid Services of Broward, said Tuesday the panel is looking at ways to address this issue, but is stymied by a court system that is not well suited to handle tenants caught up in their landlord's foreclosures. "Ideally, we don't want to put a renter in the same court as the owner," he said.

RENTER NOTIFICATION

Castrataro wants to be sure renters are notified of the foreclosure and have sufficient time to move or are given an option to renegotiate a lease with a new owner — if the owner is willing. Still, the tenant problem is not as significant as families losing their own homes, he said.

Panel members will continue to examine foreclosures in Broward and may revise or come up with more recommendations. Future meetings will be every three months. "It's an enormous first step but far from the final step of the process," Castrataro said, adding that the biggest hurdle is funding for the recommendations.