Stopping foreclosures in Madison - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Stopping foreclosures in Madison


MADISON (WKOW) -- For many people, owning a home is simply out of their financial reach.

And while Madison's foreclosure rate is lower than most parts of Wisconsin, the numbers are on the rise.

Madison city officials say they aren't waiting for the situation to get worse. They want to keep people in their homes.

Now, a new program will inject more than $1 million into the city's neighborhoods.

One neighborhood along the Yahara River is blossoming with signs of stability -- vibrant summer gardens, American Flags sprouting from doorways, even children sprinting on the sidewalks.

But not every Madisonian gets to live in this idyllic setting.

"They'll find broken glass, pop cans, garbage, litter all over the neighborhood," said Cheryl McCollum with Habitat For Humanity. "They're so pleased to be able to move to a stable neighborhood."

The city plans to invest more than a million dollars in federal stimulus money to stop foreclosures from happening. That includes helping with down payments, buying up foreclosed properties, renovating them, and selling them as affordable housing. The alternative is people abandoning their homes, something the city says is unacceptable.

"People just walk away," said Joel Plant, assistant to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz. "And then those properties become blighted, quite frankly. The property's not maintained and some people use the property for unlawful purposes."

Realty Trac lists 2,202 homes in Dane County in or on the brink of foreclosure.

"People think you just see foreclosure in low income neighborhoods. It's not the entire story," Plant said. "You actually see a lot of foreclosures in higher end neighborhoods."

Besides the economic impacts, experts say having stable, healthy neighborhoods, can have a huge impact on the social well-being of everyone who lives and works there, especially children.

"They can focus so much more on school work, and do a lot better," said McCollum. "There's a ripple effect that can happen throughout."

E-mail Jeff Angileri --

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