Eight years since the height of the national foreclosure crisis, Providence faces a plague of vacant houses, blighting neighborhoods. Now the capital city’s new mayor is ramping up efforts to combat the issue. One home on the city's West Side is a success story; it's part of the ambitious plan to create many more in the state capital.
On a cold, sunny morning in March a massive front end loader tears into a tan, two-story home, on Marshall St. on the West Side of Providence. A group of neighbors and passersby watch from across the street.
Rhode Island housing officials are unable to justify how they spent some federal funds meant for low income housing. That’s one of the findings of a U.S Housing and Urban Development agency audit of the program.
Thanks to legislation that passed the General Assembly, banks in Rhode Island will not be able to evict renters in properties they’ve foreclosed on. That is, unless there’s just cause or until the property has been bought by a new owner. Rhode Island Coalition for the homeless head Jim Ryczek said the new law will protect people who might otherwise have nowhere to go.
“When the economy tanked in 2007-2008, the shelter system saw more than a 300 percent rise in the number of people coming in and naming eviction as one of the issues that caused them to be homeless.”
Rhode Island’s foreclosure crisis has taken a much higher toll on people of color than on whites, according to a report released Wednesday by the group DARE – Direct Action for Rights and Equality. The report focuses on foreclosures in the capital city, where homeowners have lost tens of millions of dollars in wealth to foreclosed properties.
Between 2006 and 2012 Providence homeowners lost more than 200 million dollars in wealth due to the foreclosure crisis, according to “Wasted Wealth,” a report by the group Direct Action for Rights and Equality.
Rhode Island still has the highest foreclosure rate in New England but the numbers are coming down. According to Housing Works RI, foreclosure filings fell 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Filings have fallen 36 percent since 2009, when data was first available. The Mortgage Bankers Association says Rhode Island continues to lead New England in foreclosures and is tied for 7th nationwide.
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