April 29, 2009 By Andy Opsahl
More than 300 local governments are utilizing a $3.9 billion Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is offering in response to the national foreclosure crisis. Municipalities plan to use the money to buy foreclosed homes and turn them into low-income housing. To get those funds, governments must identify the areas within their boundaries likely to be hardest hit by foreclosures. Not surprisingly, cities and counties used GIS to perform that analysis.
Moreno Valley, Calif., received $11.4 million from HUD after submitting GIS data that mapped out all foreclosed and likely-to-be-foreclosed properties. The city plans to rehabilitate and sell them to low-income families or manage the houses as low-income rental properties. When appropriate, the city will turn some homes into multitenant structures.
Local foreclosure information for the project came from real-estate information vendor DataQuick and HUD. The city also gathered information from government staff who enforce codes that prevent neighborhood blight. Houses that weren't yet in foreclosure but appeared abandoned or rundown were entered into a GIS database. Technicians watched those properties in case they fell into foreclosure.
In another effort, Johnson County, Kan., secured $2.1 million in HUD funds and uses a similar GIS tool for tracking foreclosures. (Only counties and what HUD considers to be large cities may access HUD money directly. Smaller cities must get their counties to apply for the grant.)
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