Clayton announces $15 million program to tackle foreclosures

Get Home Now provides loans for buying and repairing a home, with flexible credit requirements and no income limitations. The goal is to increase homeownership while reducing the number of vacant homes resulting from foreclosures, thus stabilizing real estate values and strengthening the local tax base.

The program is open to all county residents but preference is given to public safety, educators and military people.

Riverdale is the county's launching pad for the program, which is operating in 20 states. Clayton is the latest metro Atlanta county to join the nearly year-old national initiative, already in place in DeKalb, Fulton and Rockdale counties.

The program is a partnership of the county, Riverdale, APD Solutions and First Guaranty Mortgage. Details of the initiative are set to be unveiled at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Riverdale City Hall.

"I'm super excited about it," said Evelyn Winn Dixon, mayor of Riverdale, which has 58 foreclosures. "This program will help people get back on their feet. I know what it's like to be on the other side. So whatever Riverdale can do, combined with our city manager and county officials, I’m all for it."

Get Home Now was set up in June 2011 to help potential homebuyers take advantage of foreclosures and short-sales, said Charlotte Moore, spokeswoman for APD Solutions, an Atlanta-based neighborhood revitalization firm.

Since the Get Home Now program began in DeKalb in June, 100 families have been placed in homes, county spokesman Burke Brennan said.

“It has been a very effective tool in placing families in formerly foreclosed houses," Brennan said. "It addresses two areas of need. It makes homes affordable for families and it alleviates the number of foreclosed homes on the market. It has social solutions and economic solutions.”

Foreclosures have been a big problem in Clayton. As of November 2011, the latest data available, about 16 percent of homes in Clayton were in foreclosure or 90 days behind in loan payments, giving the county the highest foreclosure rate in Georgia, according to an LPS Applied Analytics report done for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency.

In addition to eliminating foreclosures, the program is expected to create jobs in Clayton as local contractors are hired to fix homes.

"This is a new program that keeps us on target toward eliminating foreclosures in Clayton," County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell said. Although the program starts in Riverdale, Bell said, "It is our intent for it to spread throughout the county. We hope to put hundreds of people into new homes, particularly our seniors and public servants."

The aim, he said, is to have people who serve the community also living in it. "It gets greater dedication from them and gives that feeling of safety to our communities."

Bell said the new program also builds upon the $9 million Clayton has received in federal neighborhood stabilization money, also aimed at eradicating foreclosures.

To be eligible for the program, a potential homebuyer must have at least a 580 credit score (550 for first responders and educators), Moore said. The buyer does not have to be a first-time homebuyer, but he or she must live in the home.

For details, call the Get Home Now program at 1-877-484-6669.

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Metro area foreclosures

Metro Atlanta recorded 109,548 foreclosures last year. Here's a breakdown of  the number of foreclosures in metro Atlanta's five core counties -- Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett -- as of the end of 2011, according to Equity Depot.

Clayton 9,503

Cobb 12,805

DeKalb 17,078

Fulton 19,914

Gwinnett 22,784

Source: Equity Depot LLC.

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