Washington Suburb to Buy Foreclosures

As a federal housing fix remains mired in Congress, local government takes action.


While Congress's gigantic housing legislation is held hostage by political bickering, one suburb of Washington is taking aggressive steps to attack the foreclosure problem.

From the Washington Post:

Fairfax County [Va.] approved a landmark housing program yesterday to buy foreclosed properties for middle-income families, becoming one of the first communities in the country to tackle the nation's growing mortgage crisis while also addressing the region's increasing demand for affordable housing.

County leaders said the program, through which Fairfax will purchase some properties outright and help families buy others through subsidized loans, takes advantage of a unique moment when thousands of homes are entering foreclosure and available for purchase at below-market prices. The program will expand the county's stock of affordable housing and help stabilize areas where clusters of abandoned, unkempt properties in foreclosure threaten the value and vitality of surrounding neighborhoods, county officials said.

The idea of the government stepping in to buy foreclosed homes is certainly controversial ("This is a solution in search of a problem," one official who opposed the plan told the Post). But as long as Congress's housing rescue continues to be held up, look for local governments—many of which have already jumped headlong into the crisis—to get even more aggressive.