Centennial has a foreclosure rate below 1 percent, but the rate is trending higher — and the city has been considering ways to make sure it …
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Centennial has a foreclosure rate below 1 percent, but the rate
is trending higher — and the city has been considering ways to make
sure it continues to have one of the lowest foreclosure rates in
the metro area.
The question being raised: What is the appropriate role for a
city government when it comes to helping its citizens keep their
At the city council meeting on Nov. 3, Derek Stertz, a
technician with Centennial’s planning and development department,
argued that forestalling foreclosures does far more than help the
homeowners in question.
“City council directed us to maintain property values and this
is definitely a property-value issue,” he said.
According to Stertz, a string of foreclosures in a neighborhood
can increase crime and lead to code violations and unpaid taxes,
among a litany of other problems for the city.
“We can all intrinsically understand the devastation of losing a
home. What’s not so intuitive is how cities incur costs and
neighborhoods incur costs when foreclosure happens,” Stertz said.
“Research has shown it happens oftentimes in clusters, almost like
a ripple effect from an epicenter.”
Stertz said the best thing a city can do to forestall the
resulting problems is to prevent foreclosures before they happen.
He suggested a two-prong approach for educating Centennial
residents about avoiding foreclosure.
First, Stertz suggested that Centennial provide resources about
foreclosure in such venues as the city’s newsletter and Web site.
The city could also establish a foreclosure hotline and discuss the
subject at citizens’ district meetings.
Second, he said the city should canvass door-to-door in targeted
neighborhoods that may be experiencing foreclosure’s “ripple
“It actually develops a human connection with a distressed
homeowner who may be hopeless,” Stertz said. “… You’re not
spreading resources over a large area. You’re looking at a couple
hundred homes here, 50 homes here, maybe 25 homes there.”
The effort would be relatively low cost, according to Stertz,
because it would be concentrated in several clustered areas.
But some councilmembers questioned whether such a campaign would
be an appropriate action for the city government.
District 4’s Todd Miller thought the effort should be modest,
perhaps limited to placing links on the Centennial’s Web site.
“My concern is it’s just redundancy. I mean, there are so many
other sources,” he said.
District 1’s Rick Dindinger was particularly opposed to the
expense of the canvassing idea.
“There are experts in finance issues and I hope the city, at
least on my watch, never becomes that expert,” he said.
But District 3 Councilmember Rebecca McClellan was supportive of
the city taking a more proactive approach to slowing foreclosures,
especially as middle-income residents are becoming more
“I do see this as a property-value issue,” she said,
“particularly if that trend is going to start causing foreclosure
prices to hit borrowers that look a little bit more like our
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