The city of Cleveland has aggravated its vexing foreclosure problems and has lost millions in tax dollars by helping people buy homes they could not afford, a Plain Dealer investigation has found.

The city provided mostly low-income buyers with down payment loans of up to $20,000 through the federally funded Afford-A-Home program, but did little to determine whether the people could actually afford to keep their homes.

That lack of oversight persisted for years, even as hundreds of loan recipients defaulted on mortgages, many within two years, the newspaper found by analyzing property and loan records covering the period between 2000 and 2007.

For example, nearly half of 584 homes sold by the top three for-profit companies that tapped into the program over the eight years have gone into foreclosure. More than one-third of those homes have sold at sheriff’s sale or sit abandoned because banks did not take them back.

What makes that so costly to taxpayers is that the city has virtually no chance of recouping its investment once a property is sold at sheriff’s sale.

The loss in Afford-A-Home dollars from failed purchases from Cresthaven Development Corp., Rysar Properties Inc. and Pebblebrook Properties Inc. thus far totals more than $2.3 million.

Presented with the newspaper’s findings, city officials acknowledged problems with the Afford-A-Home program and ordered tighter eligibility standards for buyers and sellers.

via How Cleveland aggravated its foreclosure crisis | Metro – cleveland.com – cleveland.com.

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