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The work of stabilizing hard-hit neighborhoods is far from over

The National Community Stabilization Trust (NCST) was created in 2008 as a nonprofit to foster neighborhood stabilization through facilitating the purchase and reuse of foreclosed, abandoned and distressed properties. Foreclosure filings and real estate owned (REO) assets reached 3.1 million nationally in the economic recession, and communities experienced negative effects: homes became vacant, property values declined and gains previously made in community development in low- andmoderate income neighborhoods were erased. Few local housing groups (buyers) had experience in navigating through the foreclosure process with mortgage servicers and financial institutions (sellers); however, with NCST as their facilitator, the buyers successfully purchased and renovated REOs through NCST’s streamlined property transfer process.

NCST established a national program, First Look, to open an early access window to REOs. Buyers benefited from obtaining access to strategically important properties before they were publically marketed. Sellers yielded benefits via reduced carrying costs and the avoidance of further property value decline.
In 2010, NCST built REOMatch®, an online platform that transformed the purchase process. In REOMatch, buyers identify geographic areas in which to purchase foreclosures. Seller properties are geocoded and matched to the buyer target areas, buyers are notified of resulting matches, and if interested can manage the entire property acquisition process in REOMatch. To date, NCST has facilitated the acquisition of more than 19,000 properties totaling more than $1.2 billion in sales directly connected to making communities stronger. The REO Capital Fund is also offered by NCST, providing liquidity to CDFIs willing to lend in the single family acquisition and rehabilitation space. Although limited, the fund has revolved more than $50 million for neighborhood stabilization.
Now that overall foreclosure rates are at five-year lows, a growing divide has arisen in the U.S. housing recovery. Many low- and moderate-income communities remain disproportionately affected with high rates of low-value, vacant, abandoned and distressed properties stuck in pre-foreclosure limbo that blight neighborhoods, lead to the decline of nearby homes and property values, create health and safety risks, lower local tax revenues and complicate neighborhood stabilization. NCST continues to work with partners to create intervention strategies for both borrowers and properties in these hard hit neighborhoods, as evidenced by The ReClaim Project, a collaboration NCST launched with Housing Partnership Network (HPN), which focuses on contributing to neighborhood revitalization efforts and community sensitive resolutions.
The work of stabilizing hard-hit neighborhoods is far from over. Learn more about NCST and other community stabilization initiatives from around the country at the Solutions for Restoring Neighborhoods 2015 Convening.
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