It was really nice of the Obama administration to dedicate another $149 million to California communities torn by housing foreclosure. But we wonder if the money could be better spent. In announcing the cash influx Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development described the dough as "emergency assistance to help local California communities acquire, redevelop or demolish foreclosed properties."
Come again? We're spending all this to make sure foreclosed properties are prettier? We're getting this cash to ensure that empty houses now become empty lots? How about putting the cash toward a better cause, like making sure people are able to stay in their homes, or putting homeless people into some of these dwellings instead of knocking them down?
To be fair, HUD also stated that more homeowner assistance was forthcoming:
In addition to a third round of NSP funding, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act creates a $1 billion Emergency Homeowners Loan Program to be administered by HUD. This loan program will provide up to 24 months in mortgage assistance to homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and have experienced a substantial reduction in income due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment, or a medical condition.
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Still, you'd think $149 mil would be better spent on more stimulating objectives instead of on home destruction for the sake of so-called beautification.
In any case, the city of L.A.'s cut of this infusion is $9.8 million; the county of L.A. is getting $9.5. Beverly Hills? Newport Beach? Santa Monica? Nada.
Says local Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard:
"The funds announced today through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Neighborhood Stabilization Program will help communities in Los Angeles rebound from the devastating foreclosure crisis. The $9.8 million awarded to Los Angeles and $9.5 million awarded to Los Angeles County will help provide invaluable relief to homeowners suffering through a freefall in the value of their homes throughout my district. I want to thank U.S Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan for his leadership on this issue."