Housing Advocates See Way to Restore HEMAP Funding

The state will be getting a significant chunk of change from the recently announced mortgage foreclosure settlement with the big banks.  Housing advocates believe some of that expected $69-million dollars should be used to restore the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program.  “It’s appropriate to put this foreclosure money back into a solution that is foreclosure related,” says Liz Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania

She points to a new analysis by the Reinvestment Fund, which shows that that the HEMAP program saved 6,100 homes from foreclosure between 2008 – 2010.  While the state invested $38-million dollars into HEMAP over that time, the study pegs the cost savings at $480-million dollars. 

The issue of the mortgage foreclosure settlement was broached at Monday’s Appropriations Hearing with Budget Secretary Charles Zogby.  “I think certainly something like the HEMAP program is one that many have interest in seeing some of those funds go to, but that is ultimately to be decided,” Zogby told the Senate panel.  He says discussions are taking place between the Governor’s Office and Attorney General’s Office. 

The current state budget reduced HEMAP funding from $10.5-million dollars to $2-million dollars.  That money dried up early on, and the program is not currently slated for funding in the newly proposed state budget.

Pennsylvania Joins National Mortgage Abuse Settlement

A multi-state agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage services over foreclosure abuses now includes Pennsylvania.   The settlement involves Ally, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

The Commonwealth will get about 266 million dollars, including principal reductions for consumers struggling to avoid foreclosure, refinancing relief and payments to people who lost their homes. 

Attorney General Linda Kelly says it’s a 25 billion dollar national settlement over robo-signing and other abuses involving foreclosures and mortgage servicing.  She says the agreement also addresses breakdowns in the industry, provides new protection against abuse and allows prosecutors to pursue other mortgage-related misconduct.  

Kelly says the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection has reviewed more than 5,200 mortgage-related complaints since 2008, when the current foreclosure crisis began.