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Foreclosures Prompt a Closer Look at “Homeowner Security”

September 18, 2007

Olympia, WA – It's not quite "Homeland Security," but it's close. The goal of the governor's new "Task Force on Homeowner Security" is to examine the damage that foreclosures and mortgage defaults have wreaked on the state, and make recommendations to help people buy and hold onto homes.

However, Ben Gitenstein of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance says, in a state where housing prices are skyrocketing, sub-prime lenders are not the only culprits.

"Sub-prime loans are a small part of a much larger problem, which is that it's too hard in this state for working families to afford both their rent and food."

Gitenstein adds the real issue is housing affordability and, for that, the state already has solutions in place.

"Washington State has the tools right now to keep more families in their homes. The problem is that we're not funding those solutions well enough. We're not providing enough resources to bring those tools to enough families in need."

Gitenstein points to the Housing Trust Fund as an example. The state-run program for affordable housing development gets almost three-times more applications than it can fund.

One in four Washingtonians now pays more than one-third of their income for housing. The new task force, which was formed this week, will make its recommendations to Governor Gregoire by the end of this year.

Chris Thomas/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WA