In response to the growing foreclosure crisis in southeastern Michigan, the Community Action Agency (CAA) of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale counties has hired a community development consultant to lead a new program called the Community Foreclosure Coalition: From Crisis to Opportunity.
Neeta Delaney will serve as the coordinator for the program with the goal of shaping an overall strategic response to housing foreclosures and developing a network of partnerships to turn the strategy into action that will bring results.
All three counties have foreclosure rates greater than the state average of 7.4 percent. From 2004 to 2008, 3,149 families lost their homes to foreclosure in Lenawee and Hillsdale counties. In the first six months of this year, an additional 466 homes were lost.
“While many contributing factors led to this crisis which was initially tied to the sub-prime lending debacle, it is now being driven by Michigan’s high unemployment,” said CAA executive director Marsha Kreucher. “In many cases, health care is lost along with the job, forcing people to decide between their health and their home. At this point, it’s almost impossible to talk with anyone in our community who has not been touched either directly or indirectly by the foreclosure crisis.”
The Michigan Foreclosure Task Force and the Michigan Foreclosure Prevention Project are working together at the state level, Kreucher said, and several regional coalitions have formed. The CAA project aims to remove the response to more of a local level.
Delaney has served in several regional and state positions and has experience in “pulling diverse groups together around common challenges and opportunities,” Kreucher said.
Delaney noted that foreclosures adversely affect not only families, but communities are often forced to deal with deteriorating neighborhoods and code enforcement issues, increasing law enforcement needs and additional social —all coming at a time when revenue is running short for many agencies.
“Consequently, our response to this crisis will need to include strategies to deal with not only foreclosure prevention and intervention, but stabilization and reinvestment,” she said.
Delaney said her approach will be to tackle the existing problems while keeping an eye on the future—to address the crisis while capitalizing on opportunities the situation might present.
For more information, contact Community Action Agency at 800/491-0004.