While Amarillo's foreclosure rate is no where near as high as other parts of the nation, the situation here has worsened over the past year.
To give you a better idea of how many foreclosures we're talking about... At any given time we're told there are fifty to sixty houses on the foreclosure list. Realtor Greg Glenn says, "For a while we could explain well that's just somewhere else. That's not happening here." Not only is it happening here, it's happening more and more often... There's been a 25% foreclosure increase since last year. Foreclosed houses can pose a problem for entire neighborhoods, not just the homeowners.
Glenn says, "You've got a vacant house in the neighborhood. Maybe if you're next door to it or down the block. Is it being cared for? is the yard being taken care of? is it a target for vandals? is it a target for the neighborhood kids to say hey we know there's a vacant house in the neighborhood." If that happens to too many houses, surrounding home values can begin to drop. "I think there's some fear that are we going to see in Amarillo, Texas what other people have already seen."
The city of Amarillo is hoping the $1.5 million stimulus dollars we're receiving for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program will help stop that from happening here. The money can be used to purchase and re-sell foreclosed homes. It can be used to demolish abandoned houses that are hurting a neighborhood's appeal. It can also be used to aid in down payments. There's one thing, though, that it cannot be used for. Community Development Administrator Todd Steelman says, "We can't really help people that are in the foreclosure process. It's mainly for afterwards to try and get those homes back in the market."