Prince George's County backs bid for $4 million in state foreclosure funding

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Local,Maryland,Matt Connolly,Prince Georges County

Prince George's County officials are throwing their weight behind a nonprofit's bid for $4 million in foreclosure aid from Maryland.

The state has $14 million in foreclosure settlement money earmarked for the Neighborhood Conservation Initiative program, in which localities and nonprofits apply for funding to address vacant and foreclosed homes in particularly hard-hit neighborhoods.

Columbia, Md.-based Enterprise Community Partners applied for $4 million, which the housing nonprofit hopes to leverage into about $13.5 million through donations, grants and private investments. Enterprise would use that money to provide financing for developers to buy and upgrade foreclosed properties that could then be sold or used as low-income rental housing.

"We said in our application that we would match it at least dollar for dollar," said David Bowers, Enterprise's mid-Atlantic vice president. "We want to make sure that low- and moderate-income residents that are currently living in those areas would not be displaced and that hopefully good owners could be brought in."

The state has received 32 applications totaling $65 million in requested funding, according to Maryland director of neighborhood revitalization Carol Gilbert. A six-person panel will decide on the winning applications by the end of the month.

"We're looking for a well-targeted strategy such that there'll be an impact in the neighborhoods where the new investment goes," Gilbert said. "If there is housing that's been neglected or abandoned, then purchasing and rehabilitating that housing and putting it into good use is a way to strengthen a neighborhood."

Enterprise's proposal focuses on 10 ZIP codes that the county calls "hot spots" for foreclosures. Two of the areas, Langley Park and Landover, are part of Prince George's Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative, which addresses housing, education and public safety where violent crime rates are highest.

Nowhere in the D.C. area was hit harder than Prince George's in the housing crisis. The county continues to lead Maryland in total foreclosures and lags behind the rest of the region, which avoided the brunt of the crisis thanks in part to its abundance of government jobs and contractors.

Even without Enterprise's $13.5 million, however, there are some positive signs. Median home sales prices in the county jumped more than 6 percent last year, from $160,000 in 2011 to $170,000 in 2012, according to RealEstate Business Intelligence.

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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