Thursday, June 30, 2011

Foreclosures in Frogtown

Welcome to the inaugural Frogtown Croaker blog post!  From time to time, we will be updating the community on various happenings, events, issues, and projects going on in District 7.  If you would like to contribute to this ongoing media project, email Tait at

We're kicking off the blog with an update on foreclosures in the neighborhood.  As part of our ongoing work with the Saint Paul Fair Lending Coalition, our intern Needham has done research to give us a big picture of foreclosures and lending over the last 11 years.
From 2000 to 2010, 1154 homes in Frogtown-Rondo went into foreclosure, and best estimates predict there will be over 150 this year.  This rise in foreclosures since 2006 stems from the way banks have been treating this neighborhood.  In one area of Frogtown, from Dale Street to Western north of University Avenue, over 45% of all loans originated between 2004 and 2007 were considered "high-cost" by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Between Frogtown & Old Rondo, our neighborhood has the highest concentration of "high-cost" lending in the whole city.  The map below shows the concentration of high-cost lending throughout Saint Paul.  Besides Frogtown-Rondo, the east side also was targeted by banks for high-cost loans.

The concentration of bad loans to the neighborhood has meant tragedy for many families and neighbors.  Nationally, we know banks were more likely to target African Americans and other people of color for subprime loans.  The NAACP reports that 54% of all subprime loans in 2006 went to African Americans. Across the country, economic and racial discrimination has been closely linked this geography of bad loans (Howell 2006).

The concentration of bad loans has also meant high vacancy rates.  The home vacancy rate in Frogtown grew twice as fast as the city average over this period. The neighborhood's average vacancy rate peaked at 8% in 2008, but some areas of the neighborhood experienced rates closed to 15%.

As we noted earlier, certain areas of Frogtown were hit harder than others.  The map below shows aggregated vacancy information from 2005 to 2010 for both Frogtown and part of Summit-University:

There was slight improvement in the vacancy situation in 2009, mostly because the city bought up many vacant buildings. However, in 2010, ongoing unemployment and a poor economy led to more vacancy and low housing prices across the neighborhood.  You may notice that the area from Dale to Western has the most persistently high vacancy rate of any neighborhood subarea.  Again, this area had the highest concentration of "high-cost" lending in the entire city.

But the vacancy problem isn't just in Frogtown.  Citywide we are seeing a direct correlation between the way banks treated neighborhoods and empty homes:

The east side, an area also hit with high-cost loans, is having a difficult time recovering. Vacancy continues to be a problem.

We want to hear from you! As residents, what ideas do you have to stop foreclosures?  Are there vacant properties on your block? To counteract unfair lending, vacancy, and foreclosure, we've joined forces with five other organizations to form the Saint Paul Fair Lending Coalition.  We're building up our coalition, and you can be a part of it. Just email me ( or Sam Buffington (  Next week, we'll post more information on what the coalition is doing, how we can work together to keep people in their homes, and hold banks accountable for their unfair lending practices.