DETROIT (AP) – This city at the heart of a metropolitan area that is among the nation’s hardest hit by rising foreclosures will host a meeting of mayors from across the country next week to address the nation’s housing crisis.
The gathering, organized by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, includes discussions about the state of the mortgage industry, ways homeowners can avoid foreclosure and strategies to keep foreclosed properties from dragging down the quality of life in neighborhoods.
“We’re not talking about legislation,” said Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is hosting the one-day forum next Tuesday. “We’re talking about finding a local solution to a national problem, and we’ll start with the conversation here.”
Kilpatrick said the goal is to create policy recommendations to present at a Conference of Mayors’ meeting in January.
Next week’s gathering is closed to the press, but the mayors plan to release a report on the economic ripple effect of foreclosures on U.S. metropolitan areas, with a focus on cities in Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio where the effects of increased filings are prominent.
Mayors expected to attend include Jerry Abramson from Louisville, Ky. and Michael Coleman from Columbus, Ohio, who both are scheduled to speak about ways to prevent foreclosures from hurting neighborhoods. Organizers say Elaine Walker of Bowling Green, Ky., Richard Kaplan of Lauderhill, Fla., Brenda Lawrence of Southfield, Mich. and Douglas Palmer of Trenton, N.J. – president of the mayors group – also plan to participate.
The Center for Responsible Lending, a Durham, N.C.-based consumer advocate, is among the groups invited to participate in the National Forum on Homeownership Preservation and Foreclosures. Executive Vice President Deborah Goldstein said cities can’t afford to wait for action in Washington or at the state level to address the problem.
“The cities are just going to feel the hit from the foreclosures very hard,” Goldstein said. “We’re already seeing a rise in foreclosures, but it’s going to get worse.”
wThe analysis of foreclosure activity in the nation’s largest 100 metropolitan areas during the three months ended Sept. 30 found Stockton, Calif., had the highest rate, with one foreclosure filing for every 31 households. The Detroit area was second, with one foreclosure filing for every 33 households.
“This foreclosure issue is the ultimate tsunami, if you will, if we don’t get in front of it now,” Kilpatrick said. “This is the single biggest economic issue that we’re facing today in the city of Detroit.”
To address the problem, Kilpatrick’s administration is working with mortgage lenders and local nonprofits to get help for people facing foreclosure and get foreclosed properties into the hands of new homeowners. The Mortgage Bankers Association also introduced a public service announcement on the issue starring Kilpatrick.