PIECE BY PIECE: A regional foreclosure response

PBPPiece by Piece – A Regional Foreclosure Initiative  is a bold, coordinated effort designed to spur strategic action from the many regional stakeholders who care passionately about protecting the long-term future of our neighborhoods and communities.

Piece by Piece is being planned by a leadership team that includes: Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, the Atlanta Regional Commission, Clearpoint, Enterprise Community Partners, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, The Home Depot Foundation, and the National Housing Conference and NeighborWorks America.

The Initiative includes the following key objectives: (1) provide up-to-date status of Metro Atlanta’s foreclosure crisis and ways to take action to help address it; (2) offer opportunities for coordination and best practice sharing; and (3) encourage public commitments on goals and actions that will be taken over the next three to five years to address the crisis. This is not merely a convening to discuss the foreclosure crisis. This is a coordinated initiative to take direct action.

Since 2010, the Initiative has held five major convenings and countless sector-specific discussions to help prevent further foreclosures, connect existing homeowners with mortgage modification/support programs, and help neighborhoods hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. Most recently, the Initiative has focused on the lingering negative equity plaguing nearly half of metro Atlanta neighborhoods. In 2015, we convened more than 200 organizations for “Underwater Atlanta: Addressing Negative Equity in Our Region.” Details and materials from this event can be found in the tab below.

PBP Initiative Receives National Recognition

Congratulations to 155 Piece by Piece partner organizations for your work in addressing the region’s foreclosure crisis. The Piece by Piece initiative and its partners were honored by the National Housing Conference in Washington, D.C.  at the 2015 Annual Gala. The initiative received NHC’s 2015 Housing Visionary Award. A number of local, regional and national partners were on hand at the event to accept the award on behalf of the Initiative.

NHC’s Annual Gala honors organizations and individuals that have been leaders in making both homeownership and rental housing affordable and available for all in America. The Gala provides members and friends of the housing community a chance to connect, celebrate and reflect on the work to ensure safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America.  MORE


Around Atlanta, the housing recovery’s great divide is in stark black and white, The Washington Post, Emily Badger, May 2, 2016 (Part 3 in a 5 part series)

Clayton County leads metro in single-family rental homes, Arielle Kass and Tammy Joyner, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 28, 2016

FRONT PAGE: Housing Rally Leaves Some Behind, Joe Light, Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2015

Breaking the cycle of poverty: How not to cluster poor in broken neighborhoods, David Pendered, SaportaReport.com, September 2, 2015

Atlanta tops list for underwater homes, Linda Stouffer; WSB-TV Channel 2; Web and TV March 17, 2015. Story aired on WSB 6 times.

Housing rebound: Some left behind, J. Scott Trubey; Front Page, Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Web March 27; Print March 29, 2015.

Wealth, Poverty and Atlanta’s Neighborhoods, On Second Thought show; GPB Radio; Interview of John O’Callaghan by Celeste Headlee. Also in the interview, Noel King of NPR’s Marketplace. March 24, 2015.


See our current list of PBP Partners

The Piece by Piece initiative includes the following key objectives: (1) provide up-to-date status of Metro Atlanta’s foreclosure crisis and ways to take action to help address it; (2) offer opportunities for coordination and best practice sharing; and (3) encourage public commitments on goals and actions that will be taken over the next three to five years to address the crisis. We need your help!

Want to help? Become a partner!
More than 145 organizations have agreed to stand together in addressing the foreclosure crisis!

What does it require to be a partner? 
There is no cost to become a partner. It is a simple two-part commitment:

(1) take the issue of foreclosure seriously and participate in thoughtful discussion around solutions; and

(2) give careful consideration to making a public commitment as an independent organization or as part of a larger collaborative effort to stem the tide of foreclosure.

What is a public commitment to fight foreclosure?
Public commitments can take many shapes and forms. The November 30 event is designed to share best practices from across the country and stimulate thinking about the best solutions that will work for our region. Organizing Partners will help convene sessions for organizations with similar business focus and/or mission to gather as a sector before and after the event to strategize further and share plans for action.

What are some examples of public commitments? 
We envision a wide range of commitments coming out of the initiative. Developers may commit to rehab and reoccupy a set number of units over a multi-year period. A neighborhood association may plan to organize monthly clean-up weekends where neighbors volunteer to mow lawns, trim hedges and tidy-up vacant properties. A real estate group may commit to offering classes in the marketing of REO properties to attract responsible owner-occupants and/or tenants. A local government may seek to establish a municipal housing court to address code enforcement issues. A church may commit to opening its doors for targeted foreclosure prevention workshops. The options are as unique and varied as the partners.

How do I register my organization as a partner? It’s a simple and quick process. Contact Susan Adams at 404-420-1595 or sadams@andpi.org

Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | The Carter Center | Atlanta, GA

Piece by Piece logo

About the Event
– In the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis, metro Atlanta leads the country with 35% of homeowners underwater on their mortgage loans (Haas Institute, 2014).  Housing recovery in the region has been wildly uneven.  The slow rising tide of home prices in affluent neighborhoods has bypassed large portions of metro Atlanta, particularly communities south of I-20 and along portions of the I-85 corridor.

Of the top 10 hardest-hit zip codes in the country for negative equity, nine are located in metro Atlanta. The hardest hit zip code in the country is in Clayton County where  a staggering 76% of homeowners are underwater.  In this Clayton community, 89% of homeowners are African American. The impact of negative equity is even more significant given the fact that home equity accounts for 92% of personal net worth for the typical African-American household.

On March 17, 2015 representatives of 200 organizations attended the “Underwater Atlanta” event to learn more about the issue of negative equity and to engage in a dialogue about solutions to the problem.

Event Program
PBP Information & Resource Guide
– Audio from the Event (See Below)

– Find a HUD-approved Counselor: HERE or HERE
– Call 888-995-HOPE
HomeSafe Georgia
PBP Information & Resource Guide

Haas Institute’s “Underwater America”
Full Report | Atlanta Overview | Georgia Overview

How negative equity impacts community stability
Woodstock Institute

Race and Uneven Recovery: Neighborhood Home Value Trajectories in Atlanta before and after the Housing Crisisby Dan Immergluck, Elora Raymond and Kyungsoon Wang.

Zillow Negative Equity Interactive Map

34,000 metro Atlanta mortgages qualify for HARP

PANELS/PRESENTATIONS (PowerPoint and audio links below)

Acknowledgements & Welcome | Audio
-Susan Adams, PBP Coordinator
-Ed Jennings, Jr. HUD Regional Administrator for the Southeast

Negative Equity Issue Overview & Context | Audio | PPT
-Spencer M. Cowan, Vice President, Woodstock Institute

Local Elected Officials – Moderated Panel Discussion, Q&A | Audio
-The Honorable John H. Eaves, PH.D., Chairman, Fulton County Board of Commissioners
-The Honorable Deborah A. Jackson, Mayor, City of Lithonia, Georgia
-The Honorable Bucky Johnson, Mayor, City of Norcross, Georgia
-The Honorable Ceasar C. Mitchell, President, City Council of Atlanta, Georgia
-The Honorable Jeffrey E. Turner, Chairman, Clayton County Board of Commissioners
-Douglas R. Hooker, Executive Director, Atlanta Regional Commission, Moderator

Keynote Speaker | Audio
Introduction by
-Donald Phoenix, Regional Vice President, NeighborWorks America
Keynote Address, Q&A
-Paul Weech, President & CEO, NeighborWorks America

Helping Underwater Homeowners – Moderated Panel Discussion, Q&A | Audio
-Megan Moore, Special Advisor, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)
-Mark McArdle, Chief of Homeownership Preservation Office, U.S. Treasury
-Carmen Chubb, Deputy Commissioner, Georgia Department of Community Affairs
-Odetta MacLeish White, Program Director, Enterprise Community Partners

Helping Underwater Neighborhoods – Moderated Panel Discussion, Q&A | Audio | PPT
-Derrick Duckworth, Founder, Committed to Communities
-John O’Callaghan, President & CEO, Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership
-Sarah Kirsch, Executive Director, Urban Land Institute Atlanta Chapter – Moderator

Closing Remarks
-Susan Adams, Piece by Piece Coordinator | Audio


Contact Susan Adams at sadams@andpi.org or 404-420-1595.


Presented by


Thursday, October 10, 2013 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Loudermilk Center 40 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

Piece by Piece logo

About the Event – With support from the Atlanta Regional Commission and Enterprise Community Partners, Piece by Piece convened institutional investors, regional government leaders, affordable housing stakeholders and others for a collaborative discussion about recent real estate investment trends and strategies to ensure long-term health and viability of metro Atlanta neighborhoods. The half-day event featured five panels/presentations on the topics below.



PANELS/PRESENTATIONS (PowerPoint and audio links below)

A. Understanding the Issues & Context
An overview of local and national investor activity in scattered-site, single-family rentail market. AUDIO 1

B. The Role of Private Equity Investors
This moderated panel discussion will feature representatives from private equity investment firms. Topics for this panel will include long-term goals, property management strategies, opportunities for partnership with nonprofits and more. AUDIO 2

C. Learning from Phoenix, AZ
What can metro Atlanta learn from Phoenix’s experience with investor activity? Whave been the benefits and pitfalls for Phoenix neighborhoods? How can we maximize investor activity to further stabilize Atlanta neighborhoods? AUDIO 3

D. The Role of Code Enforcement
How does the growth in scattered-site, single-family rental impact code enforcement strategies? We’ll talk with leaders in the field, hear about an encouraging program in Baltimore and discuss the perspective from a suburban market.
(Session D starts at 31:15 mark in the audio file).

E. Vision for the Future of Atlanta NeighborhoodsAUDIO 4


Contact Susan Adams at sadams@andpi.org or 404-420-1595. Download the event flyer.


The Piece by Piece Initiative Partners are dedicated to continued response to the foreclosure crisis – both prevention and mitigation of the impacts of foreclosure.  Please visit this page often for notice of events and activity undertaken by Initiative Partners and others!

Understanding Rehab Mortgage –  (5/25/2011) – Approximately 125 Home Builders, Rehab Contractors, Lenders, Housing Counselors, Real Estate Professionals and others gathered on May 25, 2011 at the Atlanta Board of Realtors for an informational event about rehab mortgage products: HUD 203(k), HUD 203 (k) Streamline, and Fannie Mae HomePath Renovation and HomeStyle.  DETAILS

Community Planning Academy – Local Government Foreclosure Response (5/24/2011) – The Atlanta Regional Commission’s Community Planning Academy (CPA) held a day-long session focused on foreclosure. The session was geared toward elected officials, local government staff and any interested parties who deal with issues related to foreclosures. The morning featured several speakers from around the region who discussed some of the latest data on the housing crisis. The afternoon featured panel discussions focused on effective and innovative practices and programs being employed by local governments in the region. These panels were designed to give CPA attendees an understanding of some of the good work occurring around the region to combat foreclosures and deal with their impacts. Panel participants discussed code enforcement best practices including DeKalb County’s mandatory vacant property registration. Under this program, properties are required to be registered within 30 days following foreclosure sale or proceeding. Representatives from Union City talked about the City’s Operation Cleanup program designed to address vacant properties and code enforcement challenges. MORE

Piece by Piece Midyear Update (5/10/2011) – Last November, the Atlanta region launched the Piece by Piece Initiative, an unprecedented response effort to address the metro area’s ongoing foreclosure crisis. Today, the Piece by Piece Initiative has grown to more than 140 national and regional partners who share a commitment to helping more Metro families keep their homes and bringing new life back to vacant and abandoned properties. Since November, partners have been working both individually and collaboratively on public commitments to combat foreclosure in the region. In recent months, some Metro jurisdictions have launched their own efforts tailored to the unique needs of their residents and neighborhoods – in direct response to the Piece by Piece Initiative. DETAILS

Public Policy – Sector Meeting (3/23/2011) – The Piece by Piece policy sector met at the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) on March 23 in conjunction with the Mixed Income Communities Initiative (MICI) quarterly meeting. The agenda included presentations from Douglas and Clayton County on their strategies to combat the foreclosure crisis within their jurisdictions. In addition, we heard an update on efforts by the Livable Communities Coalition and the Center for Community Progress to encourage the formation of local land banks and support legislation to improve the efficacy of land banking as a tool in Georgia. The Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, Georgia Watch and the Georgia Conservancy provided an overview of bills at the Georgia General Assembly that provide rights to tenant victims of foreclosure; prevents lenders from accelerating mortgage loan balances for delinquent borrowers; and impact local and regional planning efforts. In addition, representatives from DeKalb County and the City of Union City shared successes from new code enforcement strategies. DeKalb County adopted a Foreclosure Registry ordinance in July, 2010 and Union City has implemented a Clean and Lien program that applies a lien on vacant properties to help pay for the cost of cleaning and securing the houses (Union City has used Clean and Lien on 20 single family properties thus far). On May 17, ARC will hold a Community Planning Academy to educate local jurisdictions on code enforcement and other strategies to address the inventory of vacant and abandoned properties. Please see the detailed summary and presentations below for details or contact Susan Adams for more information.

Detailed Meeting Summary
Clayton County Kitchen Table Presentation (PPT)
Douglas County Piece by Piece Presentation (PPT)
Local Government – Sector Meeting (2/1/2011) – Atlanta Regional Commission convened a Piece by Piece sector meeting targeting local government community development officials. More than 35 representatives of the City of Atlanta, Clayton County, DeKalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Rockdale County along with other key stakeholders shared best practices in code enforcement, housing data collection, Neighborhood Stabilization Program activities, innovative uses of federal subsidy funds, and strategies for engaging across jurisdictional department lines on the issue of foreclosure. The group will convene again in April.

NOTE: At this same meeting, HUD’s Southeast Regional Administrator Ed Jennings, Jr. announced grants totaling over $4 million to over 20 Georgia housing counseling agencies as part of HUD’s commitment to the Piece by Piece Initiative. Ed Jennings was joined by counseling agency grantees, officials from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, ARC and ANDP for the announcement.

Research/Data – Sector Meeting (12/6/2010) – Research sector met on December 6 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta with future plans to prepare a resource guide to all regional data resources and research related to foreclosure.

Since 2010, the Piece by Piece initiative has conducted a bi-weekly or monthly email blast with news, information, best practices and announcements related to the foreclosure crisis and housing recovery. See below for an archived list of all previous updates.


January 2016


November 2015
October 2015

August 2015

June 2015
May 2015
May 2015 – Empowering Neighborhood Leaders
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015 – Underwater Atlanta




November 21, 2013
November 5, 2013
October 17, 2013
September 16, 2013 (Neighborhood Investment Conference)
August 16, 2013 (Special Invitation)
August, 9, 2013
July 25, 2013
June 25,2013
June 7, 2013
May 23, 2013
May 3, 2013
April 2, 2013
March 11, 2013
February 14, 2013
January 25, 2013
January 9, 2013


December 12, 2012
December 3, 2012 – Enterprise Webinar
November 15, 2012
October 13, 2012
October 16, 2012
September 27, 2012
September 17, 2012 (Special event notice)
September 11, 2012
August 15, 2012 (PBP 2012 Annual Meeting Invitation)
August 9, 2012
July 25, 2012
July 13, 2012
June 28, 2012
June 11, 2012
May 23, 2012
May 8, 2012
April 23, 2012
April 12, 2012
April 2, 2012
February 23, 2012
February 8, 2012
January 26,2012

December 21, 2011
November 29, 2011
November 9, 2011
October 21, 2011
October 4, 2011
September 23, 2011
September 2, 2011
August 17, 2011
July 28, 2011
July 11, 2011
June 23, 2011
June 7, 2011
May 11, 2011
May 4, 2011 (Midyear Update Invitation)
April 11, 2011
March 16, 2011
February 25, 2011
February 18, 2011
February 8, 2011
January 18, 2011

November 30, 2010 (Launch)

If you have questions about the Piece by Piece initiative, including how to become a partner, please contact:

Susan AdamsPiece by Piece Coordinator
Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, Inc.
404-420-1595 or sadams@andpi.org