In the mid-1980s the city’s in rem crisis had subsided. As many of our readers will recall, the "quick vesting" law of 1976 brought tens of thousands of distressed multi-family units into city ownership. It was a challenge unprecedented in the history of the city and one that was managed with extraordinary vision and innovation.
But as the in rem crisis abated, a new and alarming trend evolved in the mid-eighties. Small homes were being foreclosed through the in rem process for failure by the owners to pay real estate taxes. This was a big problem for any number of reasons, including that the city was not prepared to work with small properties scattered throughout the city. At that time, HPD approached the Parodneck Foundation to help design a program that would address this concern.
The result of those deliberations was the creation of the Senior Citizen Homeowner Assistance Program, or "SCHAP" Program – an "anti- in rem prevention program" that would assist low income seniors in the upkeep of their homes and provide other forms of financial assistance. To fund the repair program, the city dedicated Community Development Block Grant funds and the Parodneck Foundation provided a small loan pool from its own resources to provide assistance with utility and tax arrears.
In the beginning, the program provided minimal assistance – usually one system (roof, boiler, electrical) and some incidental work. Over time, however, as demand for the program expanded and we were able to do more comprehensive work, especially once the city was able to dedicate capital budget funds to the program. During this time as well, the Parodneck Foundation succeeded in obtaining supplemental funds from the State, including HOME funds that would allow us to provide assistance to even lower income households.
Next year (2012) we will mark 75 years of our work in the fields of milk, cooperative democracy, housing and community development. Look for our announcements, which will begin to circulate in the coming weeks, save the date, and join us in a celebration of what people can accomplish when they work together for social and economic justice.