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December 08, 2009

Claudia Coulton Testifies Before U.S. House Subcommittee on Foreclosure Crisis

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On Monday Dec 7, Claudia Coulton, co-director of the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, gave testimony as she appeared before the Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Congressional Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, during which she suggested steps to ease to nation's foreclosure crisis. During the hearing Prof. Coulton referred to data the Center has gathered in Cleveland to track the housing crisis over the past decade.

Data from the Center's research was also quoted in this news segment on WOIO on News at Noon about this hearing, noting that, "In the last four years, there have been upwards of 47,000 foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County alone." Prof. Coulton also appeared in a video segment related to foreclosures and the hearing on WOIO's 4 PM news - also available at the same link above.

At the request of the Center, WOIO - Fox 19 News also included a link suggesting with what the Center considers the most important information for individuals:

"Click HERE for free help. The phone number is 211 (from your cell phone) or 216-436-2000," which are connections to the HUD certified counselors and United Way's First Call for Help.

For more detailed information on the breadth and depth of the crisis see the Center's recent foreclosure-related reports:

Behind The Numbers Brief Number 8, Trends in ‘home purchase loan’ originations in Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland through the period 1995-2008

Beyond REO: Property Transfers at Extremely Distressed Prices in Cuyahoga County, 2005-2008.

Pathways to Foreclosure: A Longitudinal Study of Mortgage Loans, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, 2005-2008.

Behind the Numbers Brief Number 6, Houses in transition: a report on properties owned by financial institutions and real estate organizations in Cuyahoga County, 2007.

Foreclosure and Beyond: A report on ownership and housing values following sheriff’s sales, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, 2000-2007.

During her testimony Coulton called for interventions at every stage of the foreclosure process, from loans to maintaining vacant properties. She suggested:

* Implementing mechanisms to enforce responsibility by the lenders and servicers.
* Shoring up consumer projection and promoting fair lending.
* Preserving affordable housing options, including sustainable homeownership and rental opportunities.
* Supporting strategic use of resources for neighborhood stabilization and land reuse in shrinking cities.

Coulton also described current efforts underway to turn around the crisis through coordinated efforts like the Cuyahoga County Foreclosure Initiative and the United's 2-1-1 First Call for Help hotline for owners needing foreclosure counseling . The outcomes have had a 53 percent success rate in preventing foreclosures for people seeking foreclosure counseling, which can be reached at the above phone numbers and website.