Milwaukee is taking a novel approach in dealing with its housing crisis: A foreclosure "fair."
The city is hosting what it calls a "spring home ownership fair" on Saturday where locals can browse listings for foreclosed homes, seek mortgage advice and apply for loans to renovate homes through a Freddie Mac program.
The event is part of the city's effort to prevent foreclosed homes from sitting vacant and depressing neighboring homes' values as a result.
Suzanne Dennik, Milwaukee's foreclosure consultant, told the Associated Press that at least four of the foreclosed homes will sell for about $5,000. There are more than 2,000 foreclosed homes in Milwaukee that are owned by banks or the city, according to Dennik.
Milwaukee is not the only city trying to get foreclosed homes off of its hands. New York City has bought and repaired dozens of foreclosed homes and sold them to lower-income families, according to the New York Post. And Glendale, Arizona, is partnering with Habitat for Humanity to buy, repair, and sell 12 foreclosed homes for moderate- and low-income families, according to the Arizona Republic.
There were foreclosure filings on 572,928 homes in the first three months of 2012, according to RealtyTrac: the lowest level since the end of 2007. But there still is a "massive reservoir of distressed properties" likely to go through the foreclosure pipeline, said Brandon Moore, CEO of RealtyTrac, in a statement.
Foreclosures are forcing many families to become homeless. The foreclosure crisis could end up directly affecting one in every 10 children, according to a report from the advocacy group First Focus.
One in five homeowners with mortgages are underwater on their mortgages, or owe more on their mortgages than their home is worth, and many of them have stopped paying for their mortgages. But banks still are slow to foreclose on delinquent homeowners.
The housing market has yet to hit bottom. Housing prices fell 1 percent in February when not seasonally adjusted, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices.