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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.

Springfield Housing Recovery Continues 10 Years Since Meltdown As Some See Signs Of Another Bust

foreclosure notice on window
Alan Levine
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Flickr Creative Commons

It’s been around a decade since the housing meltdown and Great Recession that shook communities around the country.

At Springfield's Neighborhood Housing Partnership, services were virtually redefined by the mortgage crisis. Now, with less federal foreclosure-prevention funding available, some advocates say they’re worried the housing market's recovery could be at risk.

The Neighborhood Housing Partnership organization helps Clark County residents through a variety services, including homebuyer education, down-payment assistance, credit counseling and home-repair assistance.

The program also helps homeowners with foreclosure counseling. That’s something the group began offering almost 10 years ago. Executive Director Tina Koumoutsos says it felt like the housing crisis became visible overnight.

“The crash happened and we started to get a couple of calls saying ‘I am delinquent on my mortgage and I don’t know what to do,’ ‘I think I owe more on my mortgage then it’s worth, I lost my job and I can’t sell my house.’ And over the next three to four years it was 85 percent of what we did," she says. "The numbers were staggering - hundreds and hundreds, and even reached out to neighboring counties to assist because the resources weren’t there.

Nobody really understood the crisis until we were in the middle of it,” she says.

Koumoutsos says today, 10 years after the mortgage crisis, the situation is better in many parts of Clark County, but she wonders, for how long?

“Thankfully the foreclosure numbers have backed off dramatically, unfortunately a lot of the resources have, too. A lot of the tools that we had to save peoples mortgages and get them current aren’t available now,” referring to Obama-era programs, including the Home Affordable Modification Program and others designed to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Koumoutsos says she still sees big challenges for many of her clients.

“The scary thing is, and I may be jumping ahead here, is that we’re starting to see some of the pieces that we never thought we’d see again crop up in the lending industry, and there’s a shortage in housing. Everybody has talked about the shortage of inventor,y and values are starting to really, not creep up –– they’re leaping up. It’s a bubble and we know that bubbles burst. So, we’re seeing some of those trends, some of the values of the people, mortgages that we’re seeing people get themselves in, we’re starting to question, are those going to be the people that need our help three years from now. When the recession does hit, when you know the economy does slow down what happens to those people that are upside down in their mortgage?”

Kerri Brammer manages the NHP’s homeownership center and says she also sees indications that some of the problems that precipitated the housing crash may be coming around again.

says many problems could be avoided with the help of more targeted federal homeowner-assistance programs.

“The Making Home Affordable program, which was designed [...] to provide some consistency and health. Servicers were working with borrowers on hardship requests and modifying loans and determining affordability," she says. "It was extended several times but it all actually ended in 2016. So we are starting to see it’s kind of back to the wild, wild west days where servicers are not being held accountable and people are getting extremely frustrated and just giving up in terms of getting assistance.”

Brammer says once federal assistance programs expired, many Springfield organizations banded together with other housing groups in an effort to continue some of the foreclosure-prevention services they were offering during the Obama administration.

"Government funding has continued to be reduced and so we’ve had to reach out to lender partners, realtors, and we’ve been able to secure some different partners than we’ve had in the past so it’s been exciting."

She says those new partnerships may become increasingly important as economic recovery continues in Clark County.

There's an effort underway to attract more new businesses to the Springfield area to promote economic growth and jobs. And there have been recent successes as several companies have committed to big-money projects.

But, some officials say Springfield will also need more new housing developments to support those efforts and make it possible for potential new workers to live in the city.

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