Scranton Creating Registry of Foreclosed Homes
November 19, 2015
To fight blight, Scranton plans to require banks that own foreclosed vacant homes to register them with the city and pay a $200 fee per property.
City council is scheduled to vote tonight on adopting a resolution authorizing a three-year contract to hire Community Champions of Melbourne, Florida, as the city’s property management company for a foreclosure registration program.
The firm would create and maintain a registry to ensure that vacant foreclosed homes mostly owned by large out-of-area banks don’t become eyesores and bring down their neighborhoods, council members said.
The city currently has about 350 such bank-owned foreclosures, Councilman Pat Rogan said.
“Oftentimes they’re a nusiance because the bank is not there to maintain the properties,” Mr. Rogan said. The new rules would require a contact to be designated, “so if a window gets broken, or if the grass is high or the snow needs to be shoveled, they have somebody that they could contact to get out and do those repairs.”
After learning of the firm from state Rep. Marty Flynn, D-113, Scranton, council in May heard representatives of Community Champions explain the program. This month, the Courtright administration submitted to council legislation to hire the firm. Council on Nov. 12 voted 4-0 — with Mr. Rogan, Wayne Evans, Bill Gaughan and Joe Wechsler all in favor, and Bob McGoff absent — to introduce the resolution authorizing the city to execute the contract with the firm.
After a home is foreclosed upon, it may take many months before a bank is ready to market the property and that’s when blight issues often arise, Mr. Evans said.
The firm’s fee would be $100 per registration. It’s anticipated that the firm and city would split a $200 registration fee that would be set by the ordinance.
With 350 properties subject to registration and the city receiving $100 per home, the program would generate $35,000 for the city, Mr. Rogan said. He and Mr. Evans also are exploring using registration revenue as grants for purchasers of foreclosed homes to “make the money come around full circle.”
“The banks are paying to register the properties. They give the contact information so we can keep control of the blight,” Mr. Rogan said. “And then in the end, (we) give that money back to people who want to invest in the city of Scranton.”
Mr. Evans called the registry program “another tool in the tool belt to go after blight, (and) taking it one step further” by creating grants.
Source: The Scranton Times-Tribune