Las Vegas, NV – November 14, 2011 – (Source: HUD) — The city is launching an advertising campaign this week to let people know about the free services that are available to residents in fear of losing their homes. A new website, www.freehomeaidnv.org, will connect homeowners with free U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved counselors who can help them learn more about their options relating to:
• Short Sales
• Foreclosure Mediation
• Mortgage Modifications
• Foreclosure Fraud Assistance
Thanks to grant funding from Fannie Mae and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this advertising campaign will be running on billboards, in print publications, on the radio and online starting this week and over the next three months. There are also PSAs running on KCLV Channel 2, the city’s government access television station. The city’s Art and Design division created the ads.
The message is important because the city is finding that homeowners are paying to get advice on their options, and are often falling victim to fraud. The purpose of the advertising campaign is to let homeowners know that there are free resources for homeowners as they navigate through the process.
This initiative is a partnership among the Nevada Foreclosure Prevention Taskforce, which is comprised of local non-profit housing counselors, the city of Las Vegas, local and national banks, HUD, Fannie Mae, and others.
Foreclosure continues to be a serious issue in the valley. According to a report by the Applied Analysis company, notices of default filings, the first step in the foreclosure process, totaled 805 in the city of Las Vegas in June 2011, increasing by 3.1 percent when compared to the prior month.
The issue is especially prominent in Ward 6, which saw 3,787 notices of default filed in the last 12 months, the highest of any of the city’s council wards. To help combat the blight caused by foreclosures, Councilman Steven D. Ross, who represents the area, has introduced a new ordinance that would make financial institutions responsible for cleaning up their vacant, foreclosed properties by requiring them to first register these properties with the city of Las Vegas.
This new ordinance would allow the city to track homes early in the foreclosure crisis and hold lenders accountable for maintaining their properties. When homes go into default, lenders would be required to register with the city and provide ongoing maintenance of the property until new owners are found. Lenders would also be required to provide a contact name and phone number. The city will use this information to monitor the properties and ensure they are maintained.
Currently, the city receives complaints from neighbors about homes falling into disrepair, often months after homes are abandoned due to foreclosure. The city must then spend taxpayer dollars to secure and clean up the properties. While the city can levy civil penalties and attempt to recoup expenses, that process can take years. Most of the time the city can’t even establish a contact person for the lender that has taken over control of the home.
The ordinance also allows the city to issue civil penalties or pursue criminal prosecution for lenders that refuse to maintain their properties. The ordinance is scheduled to be heard by the city’s Recommending Committee, made up of two council members, on Nov. 15. This type of registry is being used in cities around the country.
“Foreclosure is affecting individuals and families across the valley and the city is stepping up its role to help the community recover,” Councilman Ross said. “The new website is a great resource for people who aren’t sure what their options are, and best of all it’s free! We’re also taking steps to hold lenders responsible so that our neighborhoods don’t suffer as a result of the foreclosure crisis.”
In addition to the new website, the city also offers rental assistance to people being displaced by foreclosure. The Emergency Relocation Assistance (ERA) Program provides moving assistance to those households that rent single family homes and are forced to move due to the foreclosure, default or bankruptcy of the landlord. This could include the cost of movers, security deposits, utility deposits and application fees. There are eligibility and documentation requirements in order for a household to apply. For more information visit the city’s website at www.lasvegasnevada.gov/foreclosure, or call 229-4273.