Richmond residents tour foreclosed homes

Richmond residents got a grand tour of their own city Friday. But instead of historical landmarks and tourist traps, they got the raw and nitty gritty.

The “Not On My Block” tour took residents along to witness abandoned and foreclosed homes in the area to give residents a sense of how bad the issue with struggling homeowners has become.

More than 40 people joined the tour put on by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, including residents, activists and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.

The group hosting the tour fights for more funds for mortgage holders in financial trouble and stricter laws concerning when a home may be foreclosed.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights into law Wednesday, which is expected to save 1 million people statewide from foreclosure.

In Richmond, however, the problems may have gone on too long for quick repair.

Even when homes get repaired and inhabited again, another batch of homes gets foreclosed, making it difficult to assess just how many abandoned and blighted homes are in the area, according to Richmond Code Enforcement Director Tim Higares:

“It’s just staying the same; some houses get fixed up, and others fall vacant and blighted. We don’t see any letup.”

Police and code enforcement side with residents, stating that abandoned homes not only are a drain on the city financially, but they open up space for squatters who may partake in drugs, prostitution and other illicit activity.

Local officials are seeking reforms including an online registry for banks to report their foreclosed and vacant holdings.