By Michael P. Neufeld
San Bernardino, CA – JPA leaders have sunk eminent domain proposals to acquire “underwater” mortgages.
The Homeownership Protection Program Joint Powers Authority( JPA) decided against considering proposals that would include the use of eminent domain. However, the JPA did cast a unanimous vote to issue a Request for Qualifications seeking plans to address San Bernardino County’s mortgage crisis.
The RFQ will be released and those with proposals will be invited to submit them as soon as the modifications approved 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.
JPA Chairman Greg Devereaux pointed out during Thursday’s meeting that 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,” Devereaux stated in a media release. “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 today approved an agreement with those stakeholders to support the County of San Bernardino’s ongoing efforts to link homeowners with assistance programs.
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