Last week Council Member Al Thurman held a meeting for Powder Springs Citizens who are mainly in his Ward. Mr. Thurman has been holding meetings for a few years and in fact back when we had Ward Meetings for all three Wards.
It was decided that there would be only one meeting per year for the entire city.
At this meeting one nagging issue came up and that was house foreclosures. Houses that are foreclosed often become empty and stay that way for some time.
They then attract vandals and the property is not maintained ie: high weeds and such. Citizens wanted to know what the city could do. There were also questions from persons who were fighting foreclosure and wanted to know if the City could offer some kind of help, although I don't believe they were asking for actual monetary help.
The City does not like foreclosures for many reasons. The most obvious is that they have a hard time collecting taxes, the properties bring down the value of area houses, they are not maintained and become a blight. These are or should be the same concerns of the entire City. So what is the response from the City?
First, local governments have limited powers over something like this. The issues are complicated because so many of these houses have been sold under unethical and even illegal circumstances.
Congressional Hearings have been held and I was able to see these on C-Span. Lots of guilty parties are involved and they should go to jail or at least face strong civil sanctions. The Federal Government failed to oversee all of this and maybe encouraged the activity.
Some persons were actually discharged from their nice comfy jobs. But the best that local governments can do is to try and track down the owners which most of the time are or will be banks and mortgage servicing outfits.
If so, they can demand that they make code violation repairs and such things as cut grass. If they will not, the City can cut grass and then place a lien on the property. But for repairs doing so is not easy.
Placing liens on property will not in itself make the owners do anything. The City will collect fines and refuse to connect water once the house is sold. As anyone can tell the value of houses has gone down tremendously (check your tax bill).
Houses, even though cheap by some standards, are still not selling and will not likely return to previous levels for years if then. I am satisfied that the City is making an effort to find these owners and take action where possible. However, it shows that we are in the same boat.
The City cannot collect the taxes that are owed, the taxes are far less than previous years, homeowners face losses on their homes, citizens have to put up with vandalized property and so on. I really have no solution to this, it is something that we will have to endure for some years, sorry.
Regarding persons who face foreclosure. I have suggested that the City make available a single sheet of paper listing Governmental and non-profit resources such as the Neighborhood Assistance Core of America. List the phone numbers and web sites.
Some folks are just looking for some group or organization that can give them answers to a gut wrenching problem. There would be minimal cost to this and the flyers could be placed in various City and County buildings.
The City has posted the City Manager position. Usually, the job is open for 45 days which will be towards the end of June.
I am hoping that the Mayor and Council will use the City Managers from other cities to review the applications and send them three names. I have written about this several times.
Thanks for reading,