Foreclosure Project

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The Poverty Center's Foreclosure Project is examining foreclosure files at the Durham Courthouse in order to describe patterns of foreclosure on the census tract level in Durham County. By identifying where foreclosures are occurring, we can know if they are concentrated in specific neighborhoods. By matching foreclosure activity with tract demographic and socioeconomic data, we can tell who is most affected by foreclosure. And by analyzing mortgage terms, we can determine who the most active lenders were and how many loans contained unfavorable terms.

We have collected and analyzed the first round of data and summarized our findings in three reports.

Key Findings

  • Foreclosures are clustered. Most of the tracts with high numbers of foreclosures, and all the tracts with the highest rate of foreclosure, are predominantly minority. African Americans make up the largest portion of the minority population in most of these tracts, but some contain relatively large percentages of Hispanic residents as well.
  • Poor neighborhoods are especially vulnerable to foreclosure. In comparison with county figures, tracts with high foreclosure rates are very poor, with high unemployment, low median household incomes and low rates of homeownership. These include some of Durham's most distressed tracts.
  • Foreclosure is expensive for neighbors as well as the homeowners directly affected. The foreclosures in our sample alone have drained over $13 million in "spillover costs"--the amount of value neighboring homes lose due to their proximity to a foreclosed home. The spillover costs for majority minority tracts is almost twice the amount for primarily white tracts.
  • High cost loan terms were common. Especially in the tracts with the highest numbers of rates of foreclosure, questionable terms such as balloon payments, interest only mortgages and the like appear often. In some tracts, 100% of mortgages have these unfavorable terms.

Mapping our Results

The interactive map below shows the number of foreclosures from our sample by census tract. Click on different tracts within the map to get more information about race, poverty, household income, unemployment, homeownership and home value.

Map 1: Number of Foreclosures in Sample by Census Tract

The map below shows the foreclosure rate (that is, the number of homes that show up in our sample compared to the total number of owner-occupied homes with a mortgage).

Map 2: Foreclosure rate in Durham County, Jan. and Feb. 2011

Durham foreclosure rate map
Rate of foreclosures in Durham County. Foreclosure Project data collected summer 2013 from foreclosure files opened in Jan. and Feb. 2011.
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