An ambitious effort to increase homeownership in California has fallen victim to the slump in mortgage originations.
The American Dream Coalition, organized earlier this year to encourage lending in a weak California economy, was dissolved this week.
The coalition had support from some of the nation's largest home lenders as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, title insurance, and California trade associations.
"On balance, I think the program was more successful than we thought it would be," said Steven A. Tragash, executive director of the American Dream Coalition.
But the coalition was encumbered by limited funds.
Mr. Tragash said the $2 million raised from members was not nearly enough to create the exposure the coalition needed. He stud the Los Angeles and San Francisco advertising markets, in particular, were too expensive for their budgets.
The coalition has no plans of continuing or resurfacing next year. Keeping the support of lenders in today's much-different lending environment would be too difficult," Mr. Tragash said. Many lenders are also participating in similar agency-sponsored programs aimed at first-time homebuyers.
The coalition was formed in late January to "educate prospective homebuyers, increase home sales, and ultimately jump-start the California economy in a sustained recovery," according to a press release at the time.
Mr. Tragash said the coalition met two of those goals. About the third goal, "I can't say we jump-started the [California] housing market, but we were certainly a constructive force," he said.
According to the coalition, 8,000 potential homebuyers attended 300 free seminars on the home-purchasing process.
Although some seminars played to audiences of 300, most hail only 50 or so attendees. Mr. Tragash said the coalition purposely held small classes on lending for the best results.
Of those who attended the programs, 17% bought a home.
The coalition .also fielded a toll-free consumer hot line that heard from 18,000 callers, 65% of whom were home renters.
Now "other people have to pick up where the coalition left off," he said.