June 17, 2009
It is no secret that developers have been big players in the City of Aurora, both as donors to local officials and as policy-drivers for Aurora's growth policy, which has suffered from periods of serious sprawl, punctuated with some good in-fill planning. The right kind of growth can be very good for the city (The Aurora Health Sciences Center), but the wrong kind of growth can strap resources and create urban-suburban blight.
Aurora's growth rate and patterns has attracted the nervous attention of other parts of the state that are concerned about the inherent lack of water in the region and what that means as far the need to buy, relocate and store more water rights and the impact on the other basins.
But what may be a surprise to some is that in 5 years of walking my district, the concern about the pace of growth (development, not people) has reached the Top 5 issues virtually every year.
The neighborhood activists notice a higher transition and turnover rate and relatively fewer services over time to support the existing neighborhoods in Aurora.
Realtors and homeowners concerned about protecting the values of their homes (usually a person's single largest investment) worry that supply of new homes have outpaced demand, driving down property values in Aurora.
The environmental community has been concerned about sprawl and the additional drive-time that means which increases pollutions.
Many residents just want to make sure that basic infrastructure keeps pace with the pace of development and growth to protect and improve our quality of life in Aurora: roads, parks, recreation, schools, police and fire services.
The City will be the first to tell you that they are facing a very serious budget shortfall (as is everyone else), but there is one group is not currently paying their fair share – DEVELOPERS.
I have been previously told that "growth pays its own way" in Aurora but dig a little deeper and one discovers that is not true. It appears that a prior developer impact fee went utterly uncollected which is hard to explain. Thankfully, City Council passed an ordinance collecting $1,204 in impact fees from the developers. Right idea, right direction.
Here's the problem the ACTUAL cost to the City for capital infrastructure according to a recent 2008 study is more like $5,100. To the extent we collect anything less than that from developers in impact fees, the citizens of Aurora are subsidizing developers are our deficit in relative terms of our budget versus need for services will flow further backward every year.
I am strongly in support of the citizen-led effort to increase the developer impact fee so they actually pay their fair share and I want to thank the other citizens and elected officials in Aurora who have given their support to righting this wrong. There are several petition circulators. If you want to sign a petition or circulate one, let me know email@example.com.
The developers will no doubt mobilize, heavily fund opposition and pay handsomely for an ad campaigns to try to convince the public that they will raise the cost of new houses and pass the costs on. Such a move would only reinforce the concern that developers are not willing to pay for their fair share despite claims to the contrary. Stay tuned on this one!
May 26, 2009
As some of you know we have passed foreclosure reform in the State of Colorado (HB 09-1276 Ferrandino – M. Carroll) which gives more notice and opportunities for homeowners to stay in their home through renegotiated loans.
Many of you have also been following federal foreclosure policies as well, so I am cross-posting information from the White House about new federal foreclosure help as well.
The President has just signed the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act into law, landmark pieces of legislation addressing the problems that helped set off the economic crisis we are fighting through now.
The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act expands on the success of the Making Home Affordable Program first announced in February. By reducing foreclosures around the country, the average homeowner could see their house price bolstered by as much as $6,000 as a result of this plan, and as many as 9 million homeowners could get help making their mortgages affordable and avoid preventable foreclosures. This bill makes this help easier to access and take advantage of, helps get credit flowing again, establishes protections for renters living in foreclosed homes, and establishes the right of a homeowner to know who owns their mortgage. It also provides $2.2 billion to address homelessness, helping families be part of the recovery one by one.
March 27, 2009
HB 09-1276 The Foreclosure Relief Act (Ferrandino – M. Carroll) has passed the house on a vote of 40:22 and passed the senate on a vote of 26:8 and is headed to the Governor. While the bill is not a bailout, it facilitates re-negotiation of loans to keep families in their home where there is some demonstrated ability to pay and where the lender be financially better off with a restructured loan than proceeding with foreclosure.
Colorado had 44,000 new foreclosures filed in 2008 and while there have been some decreases in a few counties, some have gotten worse (El Paso, Douglas). Obviously, foreclosures impact us all — whether we realize it or not.
These families are our neighbors, our friends, co-workers, go to our churches, our schools and the loss of a home is a devastating strain on a family, their children (and even pets who are being abandoned).
But the economics impact us all as well. When even 1 home in our community goes to foreclosure, it depreciates the surrounding property values for all of us in "comps" or "comparable rates" that are factored into everyone's appraisals.
We literally can not afford to assume this is someone else's problem. There are a lot of reasons behind foreclosures which can range from sub-prime lending, predatory lending, job loss health care crisis (50% of bankruptcies), divorce, family problems.
WHAT THE BILL DOES
15 days after a foreclosure notice is filed a homeowner will receive a conspicuous NOTICE on their property about:
- The FREE Colorado Foreclosure Hotline: 1.877.601.HOPE, with a 80 – 85% success rate in preventing foreclosure and keeping people in their homes http://www.coloradoforeclosurehotline.org/; and
- Information about the loan deferrment, loan restructuring options through HB 1276.
A homeowner then has 20 days to contact a HUD certified housing counselor to assess whether they are qualified (a demonstrated ability to pay something reasonable) and whether the financial break-even point could be better satisfied with a re-worked loan for the lender according to FDIC lending guidelines.
If not the foreclosure process continues as scheduled. If so, then the parties are given an additional 90 days time to negotiate and restructure their loan to prevent the foreclosure and keep the family in their home and prevent further losses to the lender.
- Contact Your Lender: It may seem counter-intuitive to approach a creditor when you see signs of trouble but most lenders now understand that it is in their financial self-interest as well to re-structure your loan (if necessary) rather than incur the expense and bad debt of foreclosure on their books.
- There Are Back Channels: Your ordinary customer service number may not be the right phone number. You may need to ask for the loss mitigation department or for a contact in foreclosure prevention. The person who answers may or may not know about the right contact. The Colorado Foreclosure Hotline can help you find the right contact information for your lender. (The wrong number may get you a blank and unhelpful response, unaware of any other programs out there).
- Call EARLY: The earlier you call in the process of realizing you will have trouble making a mortgage payment the higher the chances of a successful workout and the better the odds of minimizing harm to your credit and losses to the lender.
- Do NOT Abandon Your Property: Not only does that disqualify you from the foreclosure assistance of the bill but it makes it virtually impossible that you can restructure your loan.
- Watch for Scams! There are a lot of people and predators out there who would prey on people in desperate circumstances. If you have any questions, you can contact the Division of Housing, the Foreclosure hotline or the Attorney Generals office to help sort through the legit v. not.
- ACORN is another good resource for housing advocacy and has a strong Home Defenders program on foreclosures. Aurora ACORN, 9915 E. Colfax, Aurora, CO 80010 firstname.lastname@example.org 303-366-6703.
- Colorado Foreclosure Hotline – FREE! – 1.877.601.HOPE!