One-Fourth of Foreclosures are in District 8

6/20/11 | Read the original article |

San Diego.- One in four houses being foreclosed in San Diego is in the city’s predominantly Latino District 8 area, according to a study by a local research and advocacy group.

The finding is contained in a report that is to be released Thursday by the Center on Policy Initiatives, a labor think tank that advocates for working poor families.

High unemployment, underemployment, high-risk loans and difficulties getting loan modifications from banks are to blame for the disproportionate number of people losing their homes in the District 8 area as well as in others, the study says. Neighborhoods in District 8 include Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.

About 14 percent of the city’s 517,344 households are in the five zip codes in District 8. But those zip codes accounted for 26 percent of the foreclosures in San Diego in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the study says. Researchers used data from RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosures across the nation, for the study, tentatively titled “The Cost of Foreclosures on Our Communities.”

All but one of the five zip codes analyzed are predominantly Latino. Zip code 92101 includes Barrio Logan but also covers Midway, Balboa Park and downtown San Diego in District 2.

The other four zip codes and some of the neighborhoods they cover are 92173, San Ysidro; 92154, Otay Mesa, Nestor and Palm City; 92102, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, Memorial and Stockton (Mount Hope in District 4); 92113, Barrio Logan and Shelltown (Mountain View in District 4).

Almost one third of the foreclosures in the five zip codes have occurred in the Otay Mesa area, according to the report.

In all, 9,518 of the 37,151 homes that were repossessed by banks in San Diego from 2008 through 2010 were in District 8 zip codes, the center reported.

So far, through May 20 of this year, 1,951 foreclosures have been recorded in those zip codes, said Corinne Wilson, the author of the study.

Wilson projects that 14,000 foreclosures will have occurred in the five District 8 zip codes from 2008 through 2012.

Wilson, speaking at a town hall meeting two weeks ago in Logan Heights, said distressed homeowners today are more likely to be victims of unemployment than a risky loan and that the government and the bank industry have been slow helping people keep their homes.

“People who were completely secure in their homes have lost their jobs and are losing their homes,” Wilson said at the meeting at Memorial Preparatory School on Logan Avenue.

“Banks have little incentive to work with homeowners. Legislation and regulation that is out there is moving too slowly or is completely inadequate,” Wilson said. “Federal agencies aren’t really moving the money they have. We’re not making banks do loan modifications.”

The Obama administration recently said the nation’s three largest lenders, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, have not helped enough people lower their mortgage payments to keep their homes.

The administration had hoped its two-year-old foreclosure program would prevent as many as 4 million foreclosures but so far it has helped fewer than 700,000 homeowners, according to news reports.

Wilson said more pressure needs to be put on banks to help unemployed homeowners.

“Some do allow postponement for three months if you are unemployed but the average length of unemployment is nine months,” she said. “It really does not meet today’s realities.”

Sergio Quero, a housing counselor at the nonprofit Community HousingWorks, encouraged troubled homeowners to look into the new Keep Your Home California program, which provides temporary financial assistance to people who are unemployed and at risk of losing their home to foreclosure.

More than 100 people attended the forum organized by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, including speakers who had lost their homes to foreclosure or were at risk to lose them. Some said they had lost confidence in government solutions and believed that banks should be nationalized.

San Diego City Councilman David Alvarez, who represents District 8, said attention should be focused on what can realistically be done.

“The reality is whether we like it or not there is a system in place that we need to work through,” Alvarez said. “That’s just the way it is.”

He said he supported proposed state legislation that the forum’s organizers are pushing.

One bill would require banks to tell homeowners whether they qualify for a loan modification before beginning the foreclosure process. Another would require banks to pay a fee to mitigate the economic impact of foreclosures on communities. Public money, for example, is often spent to help maintain foreclosed properties and protect them against vandalism.