In social work school my professors really emphasized the importance of building coalitions and partnerships to effect change. They also made clear that this work is messy: it requires negotiations, a dedication to a cause, a willingness to put aside differences and perhaps most importantly, persistence. In my experience, partnerships are often easier said than done and good examples are hard to come by. One of the most powerful examples of a partnership between government (at different levels), the private sector and philanthropy is the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) Hardest Hit Fund (HHF).
In 2010, Treasury started HHF to address the growing foreclosure crisis. To date, HHF has helped 263,002 homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. As HHF begins to wind down towards its end date in 2020, we at NHC thought it apt to preserve some the “greatest hits” from the program.
Our new report examines best practices, innovations and obstacles of Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund. I hope that the lessons learned from the experiences of housing finance agencies and Treasury in administering the HHF program can guide policy decisions in the event of another wave of foreclosures, either nationally or regionally.
For me the biggest take-away from the report is the power of partnerships. Treasury, state housing finance agencies, local counseling networks, servicers and leaders at the state and local level all worked together to help homeowners stay in their homes. They were able to work through obstacles to create a successful model for quickly building state and federal partnerships to stabilize both homeowners and communities during the midst of a foreclosure crisis. A partnership like this is never easy, but in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, “nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort.”