After months of hearings with local mortgage experts, brokers, and housing counselors about the epidemic of foreclosures in San Diego County, a task force will present its findings to the San Diego City Council this afternoon.
The task force hopes the council will request city and county lobbyists push for the passage of certain legislation. Among those suggestions: funding for nonprofit housing counselors and more regulation of mortgage companies, said Jim Bliesner, director of the task force.
“We’ve pretty much concluded the Wild Wild West financing that’s been going on is the root of the problem for our neighborhoods,” Bliesner said when I chatted with him this morning.
By presenting to the council today, Bliesner hopes the foreclosure problem gains more widespread recognition among lawmakers in the county seat. The risky, high-cost loans that are often blamed for much foreclosure activity have been used city- and county-wide, not just in poorer neighborhoods.
“I made maps that show foreclosures in every council district,” he said. “I hope that they realize it’s not just a problem south of 8. … It’s a problem of a different stripe on the coast, but the subprime product distribution is the same.”
Despite what could prove to be a council reluctance to delve into what seems like a federal regulation issue, Bliesner said, he hopes the council demonstrates a willingness to adopt local policies to combat the effects of foreclosure. One such policy would be instituting neighborhood monitoring for abandoned homes, requiring the banks that have repossessed homes to maintain the properties.
“There is an impact on the street; it doesn’t occur in a void,” he said.
And Bliesner said the group will ask for some funding for the housing counselors who’ve been holding free sessions for distressed homeowners.
“We think that the least the city and the county can do is assist these organizations who are bearing the brunt for a financial breakdown that’s happening in our communities,” he said.