Housing groups ask Prince George’s officials to help distressed homeowners

A coalition of 15 local housing advocacy groups Monday called on Prince George’s County officials to step up efforts to help distressed homeowners in response to a recent surge foreclosures there.

Despite widespread signs of a recovering housing market, foreclosures in Maryland are on the rise again. Banks are beginning to work through a backlog of foreclosures created by a moratorium in 2010 stemming from massive paperwork irregularities and subsequent negotiations for a nationwide settlement between mortgage servicers and state attorneys general.

In a letter to officials in Prince George’s county, one of the hardest hit by foreclosures in the Washington metro area, housing advocates said the county needs to do more to help homeowners beyond counseling and code enforcement on abandoned foreclosed homes.

The coalition suggested adopting programs created in cities such as Boston that buy homes facing foreclosure through short sales or after they have been foreclosed on, then sell them back to the homeowners at current market rates with new, non subprime loans, thereby reducing their principal balance.

In the first quarter of 2013, Prince George’s County had 1,422 foreclosures, up 26 percent compared with a year earlier.

Annys Shin has been a staff writer at the Washington Post since 2004.

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