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Riverside recovery slow but steady

Riverside and San Bernardino, California, have been using federal funds to stabilize their housing markets.

Riverside and San Bernardino, California, have been using federal funds to stabilize their housing markets.

Business dwindled for moving companies in Riverside and San Bernardino, California, in 2011, as existing home sales declined 18 percent and new home sales dropped 45 percent, according to recently released U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data. But the Obama Administration’s July Housing Scorecard indicates the Riverside/San Bernardino real estate markets are turning around.

The federal government is driving the recovery, the scorecard reports, by distributing mortgage aid to homeowners and Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant money to local communities.

The City of Riverside received a $6.5 million NSP grant, which helped it secure a $20 million private line of credit. The city used this money to purchase and rehabilitate distressed properties and provide financial assistance to buyers, boosting sales and clearing out foreclosure inventory to stimulate the housing market.

San Bernardino allocated some of its NSP funds to a nonprofit company that bought, renovated and rented 25 distressed properties in a high-crime area. Other communities, including Desert Hot Springs, undertook similar initiatives.

The housing picture should continue to brighten in the Riverside metro area as these projects continue. To date, 883 of a projected 1,140 properties have been rehabilitated through NSP funds, and 258 of 896 homeownership assistance packages have been distributed.

Northern California fared better than SoCal in the housing downturn, and is recovering more quickly. Luxury home sales in the San Francisco Bay area increased this summer, Coldwell Banker recently reported.