The Homeownership Protection Program Joint Powers Authority board has voted unanimously to issue a Request for Qualifications seeking plans to address the mortgage crisis in San Bernardino County, Calif. But the board decided against considering proposals that would include the use of eminent domain. Board Chairman Greg Devereaux pointed out many experts have warned the use of eminent domain would destabilize an already weak local housing market and even worsen the mortgage crisis. At the same time, very few local homeowners and other stakeholders expressed support for the use of eminent domain.
Many, in fact, opposed such a strategy. “It’s wrong to impose that risk on the community without support from the community, and that level of support has not materialized,” said board Chairman Greg Devereaux. “We don’t want to do more harm than good in what we choose to do." Devereaux also said continuing to consider the possibility of eminent domain would interfere with efforts to work with the banking, mortgage, real estate and investment communities in making various forms of assistance available to local homeowners. In that vein, the JPA recently approved an agreement with those stakeholders to support the County of San Bernardino’s ongoing efforts to link homeowners with assistance programs.
Several months ago, the county launched www.saveyourhomesbcounty.org as part an effort to make San Bernardino County homeowners aware of programs and local events aimed at addressing foreclosures and negative equity. The RFQ will be released and those with proposals will be invited to submit them as soon as the modifications approved today by the JPA board are incorporated into the document. Besides not considering proposals that rely on the use of eminent domain, respondents will be asked to include a risk assessment in their proposals.