Stabilizing Neighborhoods Impacted by Concentrated Foreclosures: Scattered-Site Rental Housing Challenges and Opportunities

Ivan Levi

W10-1: The negative impacts of concentrated foreclosures have been destabilizing communities across the country. Community development corporations (CDCs) and other nonprofits that are active in these neighborhoods face falling property values, decreased lending activity and other consequences that are complicating their efforts at community revitalization through acquisition, rehabilitation and resale of vacant and foreclosed housing stock. Given the current crisis in the housing and credit markets, community development corporations aiming for neighborhood stabilization may wish to acquire foreclosed single-family properties and operate them as scattered-site rental units instead. This study presents the challenges that nonprofits pursuing such a plan are likely to face. It discusses the main management, financing and political issues associated with developing and operating scattered-site rental housing while providing a foundation upon which CDCs considering such activities can evaluate their capacity and willingness to meet the challenges. The paper explores how local market conditions, internal organizational capacity and the current policy environment affect nonprofit efforts to acquire, rehabilitate and rent foreclosed properties. The study includes operational and advocacy recommendations for improving the context in which scattered-site rental housing can be managed. The paper also considers the unique difficulties of the current situation and concludes that comprehensive revitalization efforts that emphasize cross-sectoral partnerships and enjoy strong local government support are most likely to exert a positive impact on a community.