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Every day, more and more families throughout our region lose their homes because they have lost their job, or can’t afford unexpectedly larger mortgage payments. As unemployment increases, adjustable rate mortgages re-set and property values fall, homeowners at all ends of the economic spectrum find themselves facing the prospect of foreclosure. In Montgomery County alone more than 41,000 homes have been foreclosed in the last ten years, burdening neighborhoods and local governments with vacant properties that invite crime and lower property values even further.In response to the crisis that is threatening our neighborhoods and cities, ThinkTV , in partnership with WYSO, is launching Facing the Mortgage Crisis, a community engagement initiative designed to connect area residents to trusted foreclosure prevention resources. Building on their role as public media organizations, ThinkTV and WYSO are working with a variety of community service organizations to connect those in need with those who can help. Commercial media partners, including the Dayton Daily News, WHIO Channel 7 and Cox Radio will help tell the story of the mortgage crisis and reach the broadest possible audience.Facing the Mortgage Crisis launches June 15. Every day through August, ThinkTV will broadcast a series of 10 informative on-air spots, each one answering the questions most frequently asked by homeowners, such as, “Am I in danger of losing my home?” and “Can I get money to help make a payment?” The spots will feature United Way’s HelpLink 2-1-1 as the number to call for assistance.In July, ThinkTV and WHIO-TV will simulcast an hour-long special, also called Facing the Mortgage Crisis. The program explores the issues closest to homeowners who are threatened with foreclosure, including how to negotiate with the lender if you’re in danger of missing payments, how to handle phone calls and notices from lenders, how to keep track of pertinent paperwork, and when to seek assistance. During the second half-hour of the program experts will respond to viewer calls and e-mail. E-mailed questions may be submitted in advance at mortgage@thinktv.org. The program will also be rebroadcast on ThinkTV 16, as well as digital channels. In the weeks leading up to the broadcast, Cox Radio will air news reports and features.ThinkTV’s public media partner WYSO will produce and broadcast Public Service Announcements in June and July. WYSO will also produce in-depth news features about the mortgage crisis in the Miami Valley. The news reports will air within the NPR programs “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”Three live call-in programs are scheduled for three Thursdays in July. The first will be on July 16th at 7pm following the popular business program Marketplace. An expert panel will answer questions relating to the issues of foreclosure, mortgage financing, scams to look out for and the agencies available in the local area for help. Advance emails may be submitted to news@wyso.org, subject line “mortgage.”Web content will support and reinforce broadcast efforts and will provide listeners with a forum for ideas, comments and feedback.In order to inform WYSO’s reporting and planning, community partner meetings will be held. The date of the first meeting was Tuesday, June 2nd, at the WYSO studios in Yellow Springs.Together, WYSO, WHIO-TV, Cox Radio and ThinkTV will provide a coordinated broadcast effort, supported by on-line resources and community events.The Dayton Daily News, in collaboration with ThinkTV and WYSO will host the project’s culminating event: a panel discussion that explores the local impact of the mortgage crisis. The panel, to be scheduled in August, will be hosted by Dayton Daily News Editor Kevin Riley and made available for streaming on partner web sites.Additional resources will be found on ThinkTV’s Facing the Mortgage Crisis Web site at www.thinktv.org.

Ten Years After The Housing Crisis: A Look At Montgomery County

One of several houses in Miami Township in Montgomery County that had been abandoned, fallen into disrepair and declared a nuisance property.
Jerry Kenney
One of several houses in Miami Township in Montgomery County that had been abandoned, fallen into disrepair and declared a nuisance property.

About a decade ago, a housing crisis swept the country. The crash devastated many communities and changed the lives of millions of Americans who experienced foreclosure or simply walked away from homes owing more than they were worth. 

Here’s what we heard from resident's of Miami Township in Montgomery County at the time - neighbors living near vacant and abandoned houses:

"It’s very disrupting. It’s an eyesore."

"It smells like there might be a dead animal in the backyard. Honestly, there’s like a whole bunch of flies and it’s pretty nasty."

"We really stay away from it. The grass was at least knee-high, if not higher, and it was just let go. It was weedy it was really overgrown.” The situation has improved dramatically in Dayton over the last decade, but foreclosures remain a problem for some homeowners, and economic recovery has been slow in some parts of the Miami Valley.

Evidence of an improved economy can be found at the Montgomery County sheriff's sale happening every Friday inside the Montgomery County Administration Building. On this morning, around 30 people have gathered for a chance to bid on several foreclosed homes.

As the auction gets underway, a representative from the sheriff's office reads through the list of properties, citing it's location, appraisal price and minimum bid.

Credit Jerry Kenney

Sheriff's sales are the final step in the foreclosure process. These properties are on the auction block because the homeowners have defaulted on their payments and haven’t been able to work out an arrangement with their lenders.

Among the auction attendees are agents representing the lenders. They’ve come to the auction to try and recoup some of the money the lenders are losing. There are also real estate brokers and home buyers here hoping to get a good deal on a property that, in all likelihood, will sell below its market value.

Credit Jerry Kenney

Craig Kellogg, a real estate broker in Centerville with the Agora Realty Group, purchased two of thirteen properties on the auction block this day.

Kellogg says he’s been attending sheriff sales for almost 20 years - even before he became a broker in 2004. He says today’s housing market is much better than he remembers a decade ago. Sheriff’s sales back then were more crowded.

"Around 2007 and the mortgage crisis there was probably 60 homes a week in the Montgomery [sale]," he says. "And the banks were buying them back and the public wasn’t getting but one or two of them per sale.”

Kellogg makes regular appearances at sheriff sales in five counties, including Warren, Greene, Hamilton, and Butler, and says the number of homes up for auction at sheriff’s sales is down significantly.

“We’ve seen a decline in all counties - a lot less foreclosures. Butler county had one last week.”

Credit PBS

And Kellogg says many foreclosed properties that end up at sheriff’s sales today sell at higher prices than a decade ago. That makes it tougher for homebuyers looking for a deal, but it’s often good for the lenders buying their homes out of foreclosure.

Higher prices are also good for the county. Clerk of Courts Russ Joseph says lower foreclosure numbers are helping to ease the budget strain municipalities felt during the mortgage crisis.

“In 2008 for example, about 45 percent of our civil filings were mortgage foreclosures and today that’s down about 28 percent, so you know definitely a drastic reduction, really almost year over year since the Great Recession,” Joseph says.

In 2008 there were 5,100 foreclosed properties in Montgomery County. By 2017, that number had dropped to just over 1,500.

Dayton’s housing crash during the Great Recession, and even decades before, was recently featured in a PBS Frontline documentary. The film presented a stark picture of the recession’s lingering effects on the city.

Russ Joseph says the program hit home, and was accurate on many levels, but he says producers overlooked what Dayton has gotten right in recent years.

Credit Jerry Kenney
Some Dayton neighborhoods, like the Santa Clara district, are still struggling in 2018.

“I was here for the great recession and know how damaging that was to our families in the community. They didn’t talk about the work that’s been done here to save people’s homes, the work being done on education and job training. They missed the whole rebirth of Dayton Story and I think that’s a shame, I think they need a follow-up honestly to show that because you would think nothing’s been done since NCR left town and that’s just not true.”

Still, some Dayton neighborhoods have a long way to go before they’re considered healthy.

And some advocates point to loosening loan regulations and other signs they say could indicate another housing bust is on the way.

For now though, many Montgomery County officials say they’re seeing signs of economic growth, particularly downtown. And they say with continued state and federal investment, Dayton neighborhoods will continue to recover from the last decade’s mortgage crisis.

This story is part of WYSO’s Scratch series on innovation, business and the economy. To see more stories, visit our website.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.