N.H. to get $20m to buy foreclosed properties

Several New Hampshire towns and cities will be receiving some $19 million in federal grants early next year to help them buy vacant foreclosed properties for renovation and rehabilitation or demolition.

The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune reported earlier this month that state and federal housing and economic development officials met with representatives of housing authorities and community development programs in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to discuss the plan.

“Vacant properties lower nearby home values, become centers for crime and vagrancy, and increase the demands on local police and fire departments,” said U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., who sponsored the forum, which was held at Lawrence Heritage State Park.

In July, Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, which in part provides $3.9 billion in “neighborhood stabilization grant funding” administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to the Eagle-Tribune, Massachusetts is slated to receive about $43 million, New Hampshire and the four other New England states will receive about $20 million each.

According to Taylor Caswell, regional director of HUD, the distribution is based on need, and that each state will have to come up with a plan by Dec. 1 on how they intend to use the money. The money will then be doled out to the states by Feb. 15.

The state will then distribute the money to individual cities and towns. The communities will be eligible to purchase properties themselves, or hand the process off to a nonprofit organization.

In New Hampshire, 2,071 houses were in foreclosure in 2007, and another 2,346 homes were lost to foreclosure through August 2008. In 2005, by comparison, just 462 houses were foreclosed on in New Hampshire.

“We’re projecting it will be 3,600 to 3,700 foreclosures for the whole year,” Dean Christon, executive director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, told the newspaper.