2000 Best Practice Awards
Best of the Best Winner: Maryland
Best Practice: Baltimore Coalition to End
BALTIMORE COALITION TACKLES PREDATORY LENDING
Baltimore, Maryland. A coalition of
community and nonprofit organizations, in conjunction with city agencies,
federal and state elected officials, and HUD officials, is helping homeowners
save their homes and providing a stable living environment in Baltimore,
Maryland, by fighting to end predatory lending practices.
The coalition is creatively and holistically
responding to these practices by locating assistance for victims, recruiting
housing counselors to help victims determine their needs, and working with
the victims lawyers to convince the sub-prime lenders that their mortgages
are inflated and should be reduced to an amount in line with the value
of the homes and within the ability of homeowners to pay.
By collaborating with representatives from
HUDs Inspector Generals Office, the U.S. Attorneys Office,
the Maryland Attorney Generals Office, and state legislators,
the coalition increased awareness of predatory lending practices in
Baltimore, which led to a HUD-imposed moratorium on foreclosures and to the
creation of a national Task Force on Predatory Lending.
The coalitions greatest challenge is
combating the impacts of predatory real estate practices on individual homeowners
as well as on city neighborhoods in transition. The coalition found speculators
obtaining dilapidated houses at low prices, making cosmetic repairs, selling
the homes to unqualified purchasers at prices in excess of the properties
value, increasing the first mortgage above the buyers agreed price
and charging high points and high interest rates.
There are many kinds of mortgage scams
and flipping schemes going on in Baltimore, says Ken Strong,
Executive Director of the South East Community Organization in Baltimore.
Flipping schemes are those in
which a property is resold within a short time at a greatly inflated price
and has not received the extensive rehabilitation needed to justify
the increase in price. Among others, scams in both the conventional and
FHA mortgage market include false gift letters, inflated appraisals, fraudulent
second mortgages, and investor schemes where investors falsely represent
investment mortgages as homeowner mortgages for a higher sales value.
These unfair practices cause people to lose
their homes and also undermine neighborhood stability. The actions of the
coalition have not only helped victims save their homes, but also have resulted
in a number of investigations, several indictments and regulatory discipline
actions. More importantly, the FHA Commissioner announced a series of reforms
to FHA procedures designed to protect consumers and communities from the
detrimental effects of predatory real estate practices.
Thanks to the efforts of the Baltimore Coalition
to End Predatory Lending, it may not be necessary to replicate this best
practice because of the national FHA reforms encouraged by the coalitions
However, communities across the nation can come together to address the
individual needs of victims and call the practices to the attention
of government regulators and enforcement agencies, as well as state and
federal elected officials.
Contact: Ken Strong, Phone: (410) 327-1626
Tracking Number: 1548
Winning Category: Program (Community Builder)
Best Practice: 1000 in 2000
BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: A HOUSING
AUTHORITYS SUCCESS STORY
|Annapolis, Maryland. The Housing Authority of the City of Annapolis, Maryland
(HACA), makes computer technology accessible to public housing residents
where they live. HACAs computer skills training program helps youthful
residents become competitive in school and the workforce, and generate self-confidence
and self-esteem. The computer-training program also helps adult family members
of trainees become more comfortable and motivated to join the program. As
of April 2000, 350 certificates were awarded to students in PC and Internet
literacy, keyboarding and completion of progressively difficult educational
P. Croslan (c) receiving Best of the Best
award from Secretary Cuomo (l) and Deputy Secretary Ramirez (r)
HACA and its private sector partner, USinternetworking (USi), tripled the
program with the goal of awarding 1000 certificates by the end of the year
2000. USi provides computers, related equipment, and software and Internet
access for two new community computer centers, supplementing HACAs
existing center. The two new computer centers opened in November 1999, expanding
HACAs computer training program from 12 to 32 workstations.
HACA is now able to hold two after-school-training
sessions at each location every weekday as well as an adult session
twice per week. The computer centers are used to capacity, serving 200and
sometimes as many as 300youth per week. The adult program now
has 15 participants and continues to grow. In addition, USi also funds a
home PC award program, providing a PC and Internet access each month to
five students who show the greatest progress and promise.
Basic computer literacy and access to computer
technology is crucial for public housing youth to excel in school and
for working-age public housing residents to obtain jobs with wages high
enough to move them out of poverty. In a 1999 HACA survey, 80 percent of
households indicated that computer training would be the most useful
service for the housing authority to provide.
HACA used several creative elements to take
the 1000 in 2000 program beyond the traditional computer lab
program. The following makes the program unique: clear, time-limited project
goals; an in-home PC program to encourage participation and reinforce learning;
an essay contest to stimulate resident thinking about why computers are
important; and a resident website and e-mail accounts for all residents
who want them. HACA also successfully leverages private resources with housing
authority and HUD funds.
Based on instructors assessments and
review of students report cards, HACA has found that youth who attend
computer centers are doing well in school and their reading skills are improving.
In addition, 40 percent of the young people showed above-average motivation
and interest, and 30 percent showed above-average class participation and
ability to follow instructions.
HACA has created a formula for a successful
computer-training program that assists residents in reaching their goals:
- Make a large enough investment to ensure
that computers, teachers and software are convenient for residents to access.
HACA was able to do so by combining its own resources with HUD Drug Elimination
grant funds and private partnerships.
- Integrate the computer program with other
well-attended programs. HACA makes computer-training part of its after-school
program and summer camp.
- Seek a private partnership, particularly
with a technology firm, and encourage an active role by the partner
in providing ideas and oversight as well as financial resources.
- Set ambitious but obtainable goals. Naming
the project by its goal 1,000 in 2000 has kept HACA and USi
focused on achieving this goal. Having a clear, quantitative goal also
helps market the project to other private donors because it shows the project
will have a significant outcome.
- Be prepared to purchase a wide variety of
learning software and to create a variety of Internet-based class assignments
to keep students interested and challenged.
Contact: P. Croslan, Phone: (410) 267-8000
Tracking Number: 169
Winning Category: Program (Public and Indian Housing)
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Practices 2000 Best of the Best Winners
Content Archived: April 20, 2011