As my story today revealed, experts are giving the federal government’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program mixed reviews at best when it comes to stabilizing neighborhood beset by foreclosures.
But what surprised me most during the course of my reporting was that a Santa Ana nonprofit — Neighborhood Housing Services of Orange County — has been able to save more homes than the city of Santa Ana. And it’s Santa Ana that is getting millions of dollars in federal grants.
Interestingly, the nonprofit’s success stems from a decades old federal government program — the Community Reinvestment Act. Under the 1977 act, banks must set aside money for low-interest loans to non-profit affordable housing developers.
For the past 15 years Neighborhood Housing Services has taken full advantage of the act and put many families into previously foreclosed homes. And during the housing bubble the nonprofit offered its service as an alternative to sub-prime lenders.
And it was a good alternative. Since Neighborhood Housing Services set up shop in 1995, only one of its borrowers has lost a home to foreclosure.
All this begs the question – did the government really need to create a new program when they could have just expanded the money available under the Community Reinvestment Act?
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