The other towns involved in the project are Collingswood, Audubon, Pennsauken and Oaklyn. The towns have over 500 abandoned homes altogether.
The partnership aims to make smaller residential properties that are abandoned or foreclosed a priority to mortgage companies by aggregating homes into a larger portfolio encompassing several municipalities.
“The idea is that Wells Fargo isn’t likely to care much about a $200,000 mortgage on a home on Park Avenue in Collingswood, so it will remain in limbo while they deal with a $5 million foreclosure elsewhere,” Collingswood Mayor James Maley said. “If we approach a bank saying ‘Here are 25 properties that total $5 million, how can we work together to market these properties faster?’ these homes may get attention. What is clear now is that banks are overwhelmed and our hands are tied. We’re hoping to find a solution that will help everyone.”
The six towns will sign an agreement this month to enter into a partnership for the project. The towns are gathering information regarding all abandoned
properties in their collective municipalities including mortgage
holders, total value, location, etc.
Working with two Rutgers-Camden Ph.D. candidates and a Masters student, the group will analyze the data to create a pilot program to work with banks to get properties back to market and filled with new residents, rather than remain empty while awaiting attention from banks.
“Ideally we will create an ‘abandoned homes’ program that can be recreated anywhere,” Maley said. “We don’t know exactly where this will take us yet but we are going to learn a lot as it unfolds. The goal is to get people into empty homes faster. No one wants to live on a block, or next to, a home that is abandoned. And as a local government we want to do as much as we can to move the process along faster.”
A video of Maley's appearance on Comcast Newsmakers to discuss the crisis is attached to this post.