Clark County loses out on foreclosure settlement cash

Proposal by 2 local agencies fails to win part of state's $43.8M share

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter



On the Web

Grant recipients of Washington’s $43.8 million share of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement:

National Mortgage Settlement

Map of where the funding was allocated:

Washington Attorney General. Click on “Map of geographic distribution.”

Washington's $43.8 million share of a national foreclosure settlement will be divvied up by 15 organizations, the state announced Monday.

But a joint funding proposal from Clark County entities did not make the list of recipients selected by a committee appointed by state Attorney General Rob McKenna, despite the area's high rate of foreclosure among Washington's 39 counties. A joint proposal submitted by the Vancouver Housing Authority and the Community Housing Resource Center asked for a $7 million grant to stabilize local neighborhoods by buying houses from homeowners on the brink of foreclosure and working to help them stay in the home and eventually repurchase it.

Committee members found the proposal lacking, said Glenn Crellin, a member of the 13-member panel and associate director of research for the Runstad Center for Real Estate in Seattle.

"It wasn't as thoroughly thought out as we would have liked," Crellin said, adding that the work wasn't on par with other agencies that submitted funding requests. Crellin said every effort was made to balance the allocations across the state.

Clark County residents will be eligible for funding from the regional Lifelong Housing Safety Net Program, which will assist individuals or families with chronic conditions or special needs in 13 counties, including Clark, who face foreclosures. That program will be run by the Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

The money is part of the $25 billion settlement with the country's five largest mortgage firms.

Two statewide agencies will receive the bulk of the money, with more than $13 million going to the Legal Foundation of Washington and another $12 million to the Washington state Housing Finance Commission. Other funding will go to nonprofits in Spokane, Tacoma, Seattle and projects of King County, such as the White Center Housing Repair and Community Asset Building program, aimed at preventing neighborhood blight.

That was one of the ideas behind the Vancouver Housing Authority's proposal, said Roy Johnson, the agency's executive director.

"Our application was probably quite a bit different than the ones they're funding," he said. "Unfortunately, it didn't fare well."

Others expect settlement money to trickle down to Clark County's struggling homeowners -- which represented one out of every 813 households in July, according to figures from California-based RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosures nationwide.

Johnson said the equity of the committee's decision will be apparent in how resources are distributed through the two state recipients -- the publicly accountable Housing Finance Commission and the Legal Foundation of Washington.

"Sometimes it seems that Vancouver and Clark County does not fare as well compared to the rest of the state," he said.