California has been an epicenter of the home foreclosure crisis, as loan defaults pile up at record pace. Statistics from real estate data provider DataQuick bear this out: More than 135,000 default notices were sent out to homeowners from January to March, a 19 percent increase compared to the same period a year ago.

Los Angeles has been part of the financial wreckage. City officials there decided that an online map made available on the L.A. Housing Department's Web portal would be helpful -- especially for those seeking to buy bank-owned and foreclosed homes that qualify for loan assistance from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

Congress approved the $3.9 billion program in July 2007, as the country began its descent into a recession. Los Angeles was allocated $32.8 million for the NSP from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Some of that money goes toward purchasing assistance and home rehabilitation loans for buyers in priority areas -- neighborhoods with a combination of high unemployment rates, numerous subprime loans and skyrocketing numbers of foreclosures, said Doug Swoger, director of homeownership and preservation for the L.A. Housing Department.

"The Web site was established primarily for the walk-in homebuyer program, so that people that need information can participate. It's a tool by which they can identify properties in the NSP priority areas that would be eligible for the NSP purchasing and rehab loans," Swoger explained. The map went live officially this spring, after only four weeks of development. Microsoft helped with the project.

More HUD Grant Money Available

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Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor