Thank you, Attorney General Gansler. It’s because of the hard work of our Attorney General and his team, as well as Congressman Cummings and all our partners in federal and state governments across the country, that we were able to make today possible. Thanks to our work together, we achieved a nearly $1 billion settlement for Maryland homeowners facing foreclosure!
I also want to recognize Secretary Skinner and his entire staff for fighting for every home as if it were their own. Thank you also to our team at the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation – and in particular, Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation Mark Kaufman – who is the only state commissioner of financial regulation in the nation serving on the settlement oversight committee – and his deputy, Anne Norton. Our Division of Financial Regulation was one of the first in the nation to recognize “loan modification consulting” scams, and to take action to stop them. Mark and his team served 80 cease and desist orders last year, and their hard work resulted in one of the first criminal indictments in the nation for these kinds of abuses.
If there’s a common thread running through all of our work together, it’s the thread of human dignity – the dignity of work, the dignity of a family’s home, the dignity of every individual. Every day, we’re working together to protect every Maryland home, with the understanding that the loss of even one home impacts us all.
These are not easy times to be middle class in America. Over the past decade, wages have declined for 95% of Americans. It’s harder to make monthly mortgage payments. It’s harder to stave off the wolves of foreclosure. And for so many moms and dads who lose their homes to foreclosure, the hit they take on their credit makes it all that much harder to make it through a credit check on a rental application, or to buy another home.
The good news is, we’re moving in the right direction. Last year in Maryland, we achieved the lowest number of foreclosures in our State since 2006. Our foreclosure rate declined nearly 7% last month, marking a second consecutive monthly decline. And our rate of foreclosure remains nearly 60% below the national rate. But even one home lost to foreclosure is one home too many. And that’s why our work continues.
Building on our Progress
We are already achieving tremendous progress through a number of foreclosure prevention initiatives – and the great thing about the Attorney General’s recommendations, is that they build upon the great work we’ve already done:
We’ve passed what the Washington Post called some of the most “sweeping” reforms in America to protect Maryland homeowners.
Together with the courts, we’ve recruited 1,250 pro-bono attorneys who have provided legal assistance to more than 2,300 Maryland homeowners.
Since we launched the HOPE Hotline five years ago, we have helped an estimated 18,000 Maryland homeowners avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Altogether, through our HOPE Network, we have helped more than 75,000 families at risk of foreclosure.
We’ve made it the law that mortgage giants have to come to the negotiating table before they can toss a family out on the street – and through this initiative, we’ve been able to help 325 homeowners avoid foreclosure.
In Maryland, we were the first State in America to close on a loan through the federal Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. Our State was a leader in connecting emergency loans with Marylanders in need, ranking in the top two states nationally for the number of EMA loans we closed.
And this spring, we passed legislation to allow homeowners at risk of foreclosure to meet with their mortgage servicer before a foreclosure is filed – which gives them a much greater chance of saving their home.
One of the most basic, important things that all of us can do is to spread the word to our neighbors that help is available through our HOPE Hotline: 1-877-462-7555, or through our HOPE website at www.mdhope.org.
We are moving forward, but we haven’t reached the finish line yet. We have much work ahead of us, but working together, we will keep fighting for the dignity of every home. Thanks again for all you do.