Foreclosures in Fairfax
I have never visited Virginia, even though I know their slogan is “Virginia is for Lovers.” I might convince my wife to take a vacation there with me now; I don’t know about the “Lover” part of it, but at least I’ll be in the company of “thinkers and doers.”
Apparently, Virginia, at least Fairfax County, anyway, has a board of supervisors that may not only be “Lovers,” but are also a pretty smart bunch and actually represent their constituents.
They have recognized the foreclosure problem as being pretty serious, they saw the vacant homes, they saw the for sale signs, they read the court actions, they paid attention to the auctions; they actually paid attention. Then somebody realized that they had to take action fast.
Federal officials were not responding quickly enough, and I am sure that whatever is agreed on by the House and Senate in Washington will be full of unrelated spending and too bureaucratic in nature to move quickly enough.
Just as reminder, the estimates are showing foreclosures across the country are running in the thousands per day. I have read estimates as high as 7,000 per day. That means 7,000 families have lost their homes, children displaced, pets in the streets, vacant homes, et cetera, et cetera, every day.
Well, the folks in Fairfax County realized that this was going to get worse before it gets better, and decided to tackle the problem head on. They set a plan in motion that is a good start to stem the tide of the foreclosure plague that has gripped the country and Virginia especially.
As reported by the Associated Press, “Fairfax County’s plans, approved Monday, involve spending nearly $3 million to buy and repair up to 10 foreclosed homes the county believes are falling into disrepair and pulling down the value of neighboring properties. The county, which borders Washington to the west and has a population of more than 1 million, also plans to help as many as 100 first-time homebuyers purchase foreclosed properties for up to $385,000.
“Gerald Connolly, chairman of the county’s board of supervisors, said in a prepared statement that the initiative ‘will help restore stability for residents and neighborhoods affected by the foreclosure crisis.’ He also said the county will work with nonprofit groups to who want to buy distressed properties.
The county plans to spend $6.5 million over the next two years on the program. The remainder is to come from an existing credit line and more than $2 million in federal funds.
“A report released last month by George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis said the region has one of the fastest-growing foreclosure rates in the country. According to Fairfax County statistics, the county experienced more than 3,500 foreclosures in the first quarter, just over 1,000 short of the total for all of 2007. Nationwide, 261,255 homes received at least one foreclosure-related filing in May, up 48 percent from the same month last year and up 7 percent from April.”
Look, I know this is not the perfect solution, but at least it is a start. Something has to be done, and I commend the supervisors for at considering this problem serious enough to come up with something. It certainly is better than what the feds are doing, which is nothing. The feds have been doing nothing for almost a year. The latest news out of Nevada is that the two senators there can’t agree on something that is being slipped into the proposed legislation, and I am sure the federal proposal will be full with a lot of pork anyway.
I really believe that unless the feds see the problem first hand they won’t understand the problem. I hope that over the Independence Day vacation, when they when home, for sale signs were seen, constituents were seen that are now homeless, animals that were left homeless were seen wandering around and report of displaced children were read about. I hope they realized that the store and restaurants had less business, the roads had less traffic, and if they lived near the coast or a lake, there were fewer boats to be seen. I also hope they saw fewer trucks on the roads, because the truckers are going out of business, and I hope they saw that the local Starbucks has fewer customers. I hope they saw that some backyards were empty, and the barbecues were not lit, because the homeowners were forced to leave. The holiday was not celebrated by some, because they had no cash left.
I hope that our representatives and senators had to fill their own gas tank, and fill up with over $70 of gasoline and experienced the shock of high prices.I wonder if they noticed that military foreclosures are running at a level four times higher than non-military families. What a disgrace!
If they actually witnessed what is going on, when they settle in back in their comfy Washington office, they just might take some action and do something. (Truth be told, I don’t believe in a federal bailout plan, but a federal plan to let the states manage their own problem would be better.) If the feds are going to do nothing, fess up and tell us they are going to do nothing rather than dole out false hope.
The Fairfax County politicians actually did something, and their actions should serve as an example to the DC politicians; actually their actions should serve as an example to other politicians throughout the country. They took action at the risk of criticism they will receive from others who are doing nothing.
Fairfax actually realized that besides all the other aforementioned problems, if nothing was done, the county revenue stream would be affected, budgets would have to be cut, school lunch programs, raises, infrastructure maintenance, health programs, food programs, social programs, education programs, et cetera, would have to be scaled back.
Only something good can come out of the action by the Fairfax County supervisors.
I even see some jealousy from some people who are claiming that politics will come into play on deciding which properties are tended to. With the entire country watching this bold experiment, I am sure the process of selection will be carefully monitored.
Fairfax County should be proud of their leaders – they have celebrated their Independence Day well. I hope the rest of the localities in the nation don’t wait until next year (Independence Day) to wake up to the reality that we all have a major problem with foreclosures.
What the heck, give them 2 GOLD STARS plus a salute – They deserve it!
Joe Russo is a freelance journalist specializing in real estate, mortgages and consumer-credit issues. He has recently published a book titled Selling Your House/Condo in this Housing Emergency of 2008 (www.AmericasBestAgent.com).