NARRAGANETT–No Rhode Island community was entirely immune from the housing bubble and current foreclosure crisis. HousingWorks RI, a non-profit that supports dedicating a stream of funding for affordable housing around the state, released its second annual special report on foreclosures in Rhode Island. The report looks at the number of foreclosures from January 2009 through December 2010 in each of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns and its impacts.
No consumer protections to prevent a similar bubble have been put into place on a statewide level despite the painful consequences of speculation and low oversight that resulted in the current crisis.
However, in January of last year, Rhode Island's General Assembly overrode Republican Governor Carcieri's veto to pass a bill that required foreclosing lenders to notify people upon whom they may foreclose about free foreclosure counseling available to them. Another bill, which was vetoed by Carcieri, was less about directly preventing foreclosure. Instead, it required banks to maintain the properties upon which they foreclose.
But the conditions that caused the crisis remain and no one has been punished (except for those people who were given loans they could not possibly pay back.)
"Rhode Island has been described as the epicenter for foreclosures in the northeast," Nellie Gorbea said in an interview. "Even before the rest of the country, we had so much sub-prime lending throughout the state. Rhode Island came into this problem earlier because wages have stagnated and houses were increasingly unaffordable."