Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Learning From the Past: The Asset Disposition Experiences of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, The Resolution Trust Corporation, and the Asset Control Area Program

Author(s): Ellen Seidman and Andrew Jakabovics

April 2009

Community Development Investment Review

While there is little to celebrate in the current foreclosure disaster, one potential silver lining in the large number of bank-owned properties is the opportunity to turn those properties into community assets. A May 2008 conference hosted by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University and sponsored by the Ford Foundation brought together policy experts and practitioners to share best practices for “Transforming Foreclosed Properties into Community Assets.” Most of the discussion focused on what can be done by partners working together at the local level. The current situation is not, however, the first time that the federal government has faced the challenge of turning foreclosed residential property into affordable housing. In this essay, prepared for the NYU conference, we consider three earlier experiences with asset disposition by the federal government—the New Deal–era Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC), the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), and HUD’s Asset Control Area (ACA) program. In each case, the federal government was forced to deal with large-scale disposition of private-sector assets that passed into public hands as a function of federal funds put into an earlier, related transaction.

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