NM lawmakers tackle high price of foreclosure

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – New Mexicans are losing big time in the housing market with $2.1 billion dollars in home foreclosures between 2009 and 2012. It’s affecting some areas more than others, but now, lawmakers are taking action. It displaces families, increases crime, lowers property values and drains economic energy. Home foreclosures aren’t going away, but a state senator says there could be ways to soften the blow.

“In this area, people are losing money left and right,” says Sen. Michael Padilla.

Zip Code 87121 – the southwest mesa – is dubbed by Padilla as ground zero for some of the highest poverty in the state.

“The highest home foreclosure rate in the state, the highest percentage of schools that are title one and the highest percentage of schools with free and reduced lunches,” explains Padilla.

He blames it on unemployment and the absence of businesses and shopping centers in the area. Yet, even those fortunate enough to have jobs and pay their mortgages, Padilla says, are still paying the high price for foreclosure.

“If you’re paying your mortgage next door to a home that’s been foreclosed upon, you’re losing equity every night you go to bed,” says Padilla.

What’s more, it’s to the tune of $30,000 to $50,000 per home, according to Padilla. It’s why he’s set into motion a task force designed to ensure those involved in the foreclosure process in struggling communities are treated fairly. That includes the homeowners, banks and lenders.

“Everybody that touches this process is going to be a part of this task force so that we can get our hands around helping people stay in their homes,” Padilla says.

He says it’s in everyone’s best interest to help people keep their homes and their jobs.

“If your neighbor doesn’t have a job and loses their home, that immediately effects the value of your home,” Padilla explains.

With the help of the task force’s findings, set to be released in November, Padilla hopes lawmakers can develop legislation that will help turn around neighborhoods like the southwest mesa.

“The number one thing that helps people gain wealth and to move their lives on is to have a home for their children to sleep in every night,” says Padilla.

Some of the groups set to participate in the task force are the senior citizens law office, the New Mexico Mortgage finance authority and the New Mexico land title association.

The task force is scheduled to meet between six and eight times before they release their November report. Their first meeting is set for Wednesday.

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