The city of Oxnard received a little more than $2 million in funds from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to aid in the purchasing and rehabilitation of foreclosed homes. Oxnard received notification of the award more than nine months ago, but after dealing with demanding federal and state regulations, has only started using the funds recently.

“The city was required to go through a number of pre-operational steps, such as hearings and approvals, etc.,” said Oxnard housing director William Wilkins. “As with any program where state or federal funds are awarded, you are required to complete a massive amount of paperwork and processes prior to actual implementation of the program.”
The program was established with the goal of stabilizing communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment. The NSP was created under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, and with this grant, it made awards to a total of 309 grantees, including states and territories.

Although the grant was awarded in May of last year, the city had to go through several steps to fully obtain proper authorization to spend the federal grant money. Due to all of these federal and state regulations, the city did not get final approval from the state of California to spend the money until October 2009 and, ultimately, the authority to spend the funds just came this February.

Wilkins says that the funds will be used to purchase foreclosed homes and turn them into affordable housing units for families. The entire county of Ventura was awarded about $2.7 million, and Oxnard alone was granted $2 million, making up nearly 74 percent of the whole county’s grant.

Since there were a vast number of federal and state regulations to go through, being able to spend the funds in a timely manner as a way to provide low-income housing has been no easy task.

Oxnard, which currently has about 900 homes that have been foreclosed and put on the market, is seeing a problem with investors within the area. These 900 homes alone make up almost 30 percent of the entire county’s foreclosure rate. Donna Plummer, a management analyst in Ventura, says that communities in Ventura County are “finding there are a lot of investors snatching up these homes as soon as they hit the market, so the grant is less effective due to the various federal regulations that need to be followed.”

After 10 months of hearings, approvals and immense amounts of paperwork, the city of Oxnard is currently inspecting and making offers on houses, with hopes of buying potentially life-changing homes.

Wilkins says the city has offered to purchase four houses and is in the process of looking at another three.

“We are purchasing houses for families who need an affordable housing unit. These families will have to be able to get a loan from a lender or bank for the sales price, which will be below market price,” he says.

As the city moves forward to meet its affordable housing quota, the program has enabled Oxnard to purchase abandoned and foreclosed homes, and provide decent affordable housing units for families
in need.