Miami-Dade seeks additional $162 million in federal money for foreclosure relief
By Risa Polansky
With $62 million allotted from the first round of federal foreclosure relief funding, Miami-Dade County is vying for $162 million more.
The county received more than any other locality in the country during the first phase of the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
That round was based on a formula. This time, a $1.93 billion pot is up for grabs through competitive applications.
And the county is going for nearly triple its initial allocation.
If the feds grant it, the $162 million could be used to "address problems associated with concentrations of foreclosed, vacant and abandoned homes" through issuing second mortgages, rehabbing and selling foreclosed homes and developing rental buildings on vacant land, among other efforts, county documents say.
But the first round of funds already came with a caveat, and the county must prove itself through that program to have a shot at the new pot.
Miami-Dade's track record of misspending or not spending housing and community development cash on time led the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to place "special conditions" on the county for the first phase of the foreclosure relief program, citing past and outstanding financial management and timeliness issues.
Because of the sheer amount Miami-Dade received during round one, the feds required a "plan of action" to resolve outstanding deficiencies and explain "how the past performance issues will not impact its administration of the NSP [neighborhood stabilization] program."
At the time, Community and Economic Development Director Shalley Jones Horn warned county commissioners that "they've got their foot on our neck."
The county could be "shut out of" the second phase of the foreclosure relief program "if we don't perform properly," she said in March.
The county has since worked to loosen the foothold.
Officials met a May deadline to submit a resolution plan, and the feds accepted it, said Clarence Brown, chief operating officer and director of the housing assets management section of the community and economic development office, via e-mail.
As to whether past performance issues will hinder Miami-Dade's chances for another round of funds: "we hope not," he said.
Should Miami-Dade receive a second grant, half must be spent within two years and all within three.
But Miami-Dade is competing with state governments, other local governments and not-for-profits to win its share of the nearly $2 billion pie, county documents say.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is to allot the money based on six factors: need/extent of the problem, demonstrated capacity of the applicant, soundness of approach, leveraging other funds or removal of substantial negative effects, energy efficiency improvements and sustainable development, and neighborhood transformation and economic opportunity.
The county's proposed plan, should the feds grant funding:
— $61 million to team with developers to build multi-family rental housing on vacant land.
—$27 million toward building multi-family residential housing projects that are part of the county's General Obligation Bond program.
—$26 million to acquire and rehabilitate multi-family properties to provide affordable rental options. The county estimates 300 units total.
—$15 million to acquire foreclosed single-family homes and rehab them for sale. Based on a maximum $205,000 sale price, the county could offer an estimated 70 homes.
—$15 million to provide low- or no-interest second mortgages and closing-cost assistance to income-eligible buyers of foreclosed homes. The county expects to provide about 200 second mortgages in qualified areas.
—$1.8 million to demolish blighted structures.
—Up to $16.2 million to administer the programs.
Unlike the first round of foreclosure relief funds, the second round's use wouldn't be limited to a few target areas.
The federal program required the first shot of funds be allocated in moderate- to low-income areas with high foreclosure rates.
To identify Miami-Dade's "areas of greatest need," county planning and economic experts used a formula of the number of foreclosures, number of subprime loans and number of residents at or below 120% of the area median income.
Some commissioners complained the federally required formula left their districts high and dry — and they haven't forgotten.
"This really did not apply countywide," Commissioner Joe Martinez, who in November voted against the county's proposal for the first round of funds, said again at a committee meeting this month.
The second round would be a bit different.
Of the county's 348 census tracts, 341 are eligible based on area foreclosure and vacancy rates, county documents say.
Still, to benefit, residents in those areas must qualify at 120% or less of the median income, which narrows the field.
"We are proposing looking at the highest impacted areas based on the current foreclosure data, as well as potential specific projects," said Mr. Brown of the community and economic development office.
The plan is to focus on the top 100 census tracts.
The county's application is due July 17. Housing and Urban Development is expected to decide by Dec. 1.