Legislature Approves Plan to Help Homeowners Affected by Foreclosure Crisis
Attorney General Bill Schuette today praised Governor Rick Snyder and GOP legislative leaders for passing legislation that largely follows his recommendations to strengthen Michigan’s economy and bring relief to countless residents struggling with foreclosure. The legislation now heads to Snyder’s desk for final approval.
Earlier this year, Schuette and 48 other state attorney generals entered into a settlement with the five leading bank mortgage servicers to address allegations of faulty foreclosure processes and poor servicing of mortgages that harmed Michigan homeowners. Schuette recommended the legislature use the $97.2 million that will be paid directly to the state to create the Homeowner Protection Fund, to ensure families affected by the foreclosure crisis received the most benefit.
“I am very pleased that Michigan citizens affected by the foreclosure crisis will finally begin to see some relief,” said Schuette. “Part of my job is to fight for and help people scammed and victimized by this crisis. This fund is part of a team effort to assist citizens throughout Michigan.
“I value the leadership of Governor Snyder, Speaker Bolger, Majority Leader Richardville, Representatives Moss and Knollenberg, and Senators Kahn and Booher in fighting for Michigan families.”
The Michigan legislature voted Wednesday to pass H.B. 5015. Once signed by the governor, this legislation will create a $97.2 million Homeowner Protection Fund.
After Governor Snyder signs the legislation, funds from the national mortgage settlement will be used for the following eight initiatives:
- Foreclosure Rescue Scam Victim Restitution - $7.5 million. Many Michigan residents have fallen prey to foreclosure rescue scam artists who offered to help citizens save their homes. This fund will provide restitution payments of up to $3,000 per person for victims of foreclosure scams. Eligibility criteria to determine qualifying cases will be established at a later date.
- Assistance for Veterans - $5 million. The men and women who served our country also have been affected by poor mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices. These funds will provide targeted relief for military servicemembers unable to qualify for existing programs.
- Michigan Attorney General Home Protection Unit - $6 million. These funds will allow Schuette’s office to ramp up investigation and prosecution of foreclosure-related crimes. This unit has brought charges in 28 cases since 2009 and there are approximately 69 cases currently under investigation. These funds will allow for additional investigators and prosecutors to combat foreclosure related crimes.
- Blight Elimination - $25 million. These funds will be dedicated to blight elimination efforts throughout Michigan. $10 million will be allocated for blight elimination in the city of Detroit and $15 million will be allocated for use throughout the rest of the state. Given that blighted property contributes to an environment conducive to crime, targeting blight elimination in these areas will further efforts to reduce crime.
- Foreclosure Counseling for Homeowners - $20 million. The Michigan State Housing and Development Authority (MSHDA) and Michigan State University Extension Offices will use these funds to expand their much-needed, free homeowner counseling services for citizens seeking to avoid foreclosure.
- Housing and Community Development Programs – $3.7 million. These funds will be allocated to the Michigan Housing and Community Development Fund which develops and coordinates public and private resources to meet the affordable housing needs of low income households and revitalizing downtown areas and neighborhoods in Michigan.
- Grants to Help Homeowners Refinance - $5 million. These funds will allow The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to provide Grants to help pay the closing costs of citizens who utilize the Homeless Assistance Recovery Program (HARP). Eligible citizens will receive assistance paying closing costs associated with refinancing their home.
- Assistance to Homebuyers - $15 million. These funds will assist both service members and non-service members by providing grants to offset the purchase price of a home. Service members may be eligible for grants up to $5,000 and non-service members up to $3,000. Eligibility criteria to determine qualifying cases will be established at a later date.
- Education Achievement Authority - $10 million. These funds will be used by the Education Achievement Authority (EAA) to help improve performance of Michigan’s lowest performing schools.
Michigan homeowners can find more information on the 2012 Mortgage Settlement on Schuette’s website at: www.Michigan.gov/mortagesettlement.
Schuette cautions Michigan homeowners to be on the lookout for scams associated with this foreclosure settlement. State and federal laws guarantee citizens the right to speak with their mortgage lender or servicer free of charge; and citizens are never required to pay for outside assistance with foreclosure issues. Free local assistance with foreclosure issues can be found by calling the Michigan State Housing Development Authority at (866) 946-7432.