While home foreclosures in Oakland have fallen in past few months, the city has seen an increase in the numbers of Notices of Default, which means that the number of homeowners who are starting the foreclosure process are on the upswing, according to a new City of Oakland foreclosure report.
There were 112 new Notices of Default in April and 109 in May. Between April and the end of June, 253 families have lost their homes due to foreclosure.
The quarterly report states that currently, 90 percent of Oakland families in foreclosure have owned their home for at least six years, with over one-third of them owning their homes for more than 10 years.
This trend means that long-time residents are being more affected more by foreclosures. In the past the majority of those losing their homes had only owned their properties for about two years.
Another recent trend is a decline in short sales, that is, fewer owners are selling their “underwater” homes at a loss and walking away from their investment.
The city also now seems to have a number of speculators who are buying up homes and raise the rents, which is forcing many African American families to move.
According members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), one of these companies is REO Homes LLC, which now owns over 200 properties in the “lower bottoms” neighborhood of West Oakland.
“These speculators are pricing people out of their homes,” said Shirley Burnell, an ACCE member and West Oakland resident.
“They are raising the rent to $2,600 in some areas. How many people living in West Oakland can afford that? Financially, this was not the case before, and now more people in the community are jobless.”
Burnell says she hopes that Oakland City Council can help find methods to keep families in their homes and off the streets.
The City Council in November passed an ordinance that requires the registration, inspection, and maintenance of foreclosed homes bought by investors. The program set online registration system and a database system to identify targeted properties for enforcement.
Last year, the council also approved funds to prevent foreclosures with housing counseling and legal services, as well as a Restoring Ownership Opportunity Today (ROOT) loan fund program to preserve homeownership for qualified distressed families.
The fund will allow the housing nonprofit agency to buy the foreclosed homes at current market value and resell them back to homeowner. The agency will work closely with the selected homeowners on budgeting and repairing their credit to make sure they can handle the payments.
According to Margaretta Lin of Oakland’s Department of Housing and Community Development, Chase and Bank of America have joined Wells Fargo in helping to finance the Root fund program. Lin says if the program is successful, it could possibly be expanded to the rest of the East Bay.