Taveras Promises to Tackle Providence Foreclosure Crisis

Thursday, August 12, 2010


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Standing next to his boarded-up childhood home in Providence, Democratic mayoral candidate Angel Taveras yesterday made a passionate plea for pulling the capital city out of the foreclosure crisis.

“As we stand here today there are nearly 1,000 houses in the City of Providence like this one—covered in plywood, boarded up, foreclosed and vacant,” Taveras said. “Plywood, everywhere you go. Drive down Potters Ave, down Cranston Street—what do you see? Where there once were families, opportunity and hope now there’s plywood, plywood, plywood.”

Taveras unveiled a detailed plan for addressing the crisis, which includes the following:

● Using the state’s Abandoned Property Act to put abandoned and foreclosed homes into receivership, so they can be turned over to local housing nonprofit organizations, which can refurbish and resell them.

● Creating “triage teams” that will go into neighborhoods, identify families facing foreclosure, and give them advice on how to prevent the loss of their homes.

● Taveras said the city needed to do a better job enforcing its new ordinance that requires that lenders and homeowners meet with a mediator before completing a foreclosure.

● He said he would have the City Solicitor go after “irresponsible lenders” whose “toxic loans” caused the housing crisis. Plus, he said banks that foreclose on a home must pay the property taxes and maintain the property.

● He said the city needed to invest more in removal programs for lead and other environmental toxins.

● Taveras also called for revamping how the city enforces its housing code.

“As a Housing Court judge, I have seen firsthand over the last four years the struggles many Providence families go through to hold on to their homes,” Taveras said.  “And as someone who grew up all over the City, I know that safe, adequate and affordable housing is key to ensuring strong neighborhoods and healthy families.”

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What would the other candidates do?

Here is what other mayoral candidates told GoLocalProv yesterday in response to Taveras’ housing plan:

Democrat Steven Costantino: ‘A Job Is the Best Foreclosure Prevention Tool’

“There is both an affordable housing crisis and a housing issue in Providence. Unfortunately, although many in our city have fallen victim to lenders who preyed on their desire to own a home, there are many others who received good mortgages, viable mortgages, that have fallen victim to a dwindling economy and unemployment,” Costantino said. “We must not only provide the treatment, but we must look at prevention. As mayor, I will arm Providence residents with the information they need to assess what they can afford; provide a bridge to those at risk of losing their home; and most importantly, work with business to provide one of the best foreclosure prevention tools—a job.”

Independent Jonathan Scott: Bring Back the Homestead Exemption

“Housing is at a crisis point in Providence. The economy coupled with questionable lending practices and exacerbated by the unique housing needs of a city dependent on colleges and universities has gotten us to this point and decisive action needs to be taken immediately,” Scott said.

The unfortunate thing is that the City Council has acted in a way that will increase housing costs and abandonment rates. The tax levy, and in particular, the elimination of the homestead exemption for non owner occupied dwellings is poised to take our city’s housing crisis upwards in exponential ways,” he added. “In order to act quickly to head off the impending devastation I would, as Mayor, call for the immediate re-instatement of the homestead exemption for non owner occupied dwellings.”

Democrat John Lombardi: Education Is Key

“We have learned that educating homebuyers is the best way to prevent foreclosures. Therefore, the City of Providence must do a better job of educating homebuyers,” the Lombardi campaign said in a statement.

“The people of Providence are fortunate to have free foreclosure prevention counseling provided by RI Housing, the Housing Network, and NeighborWorks America supported Community Development Corporations such as West Elmwood Housing, and OMNI Development Corporation. We need to conduct more grassroots outreach to inform struggling homeowners where they can receive free HUD Certified assistance. Our city cannot afford to have another dislocated family and another boarded up home.”


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