Governor Martin O’Malley Releases StateStat Update on Foreclosure Prevention Efforts
Governor, Lieutenant Governor host foreclosure prevention workshop in Prince George’s County
HYATTSVILLE, MD (July 24, 2009) – Governor Martin O’Malley joined Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown today to release encouraging data in the form of a StateStat Update on foreclosure prevention outreach efforts in Maryland as they, along with Administration officials, welcomed homeowners to the “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait” foreclosure prevention workshop aimed at assisting families facing foreclosure. The event, hosted by the housing counseling agency HomeFree-USA’s Hyattsville facility, allowed participants to consult with counselors and receive valuable information on state programs that can assist in meeting their financial and housing needs.
“Strengthening the safety net for Maryland families is just one way we continue to put families first, even in tough economic times,” said Governor O’Malley. “Foreclosures are still on the rise in Maryland, and our outreach efforts must match the demand for services. When the crisis first hit, we worked together as One Maryland to move swiftly to enact an array of strategies and reforms. Those efforts have since expanded even further, allowing every family in need of assistance to receive the help they deserve during this vulnerable period in their lives.”
Through the first six months of 2009, approximately 18,112 foreclosure filings occurred in Maryland. Compared with 17,625 filings for the same period last year, this represents a growth of about 2.8 percent. In Maryland, MDHOPE counselors have aided nearly 23,000 consumers and helped more than 6,800 homeowners avoid foreclosure.
“We know that these difficult economic times are hitting our working families the hardest. Governor O'Malley and I have made difficult choices over the past several years but every step of the way, we have chosen to put Families First,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “We didn't get into this overnight and we won't get out of it overnight either. However, workshops like this are one of many steps we take to protect our priorities.”
Maryland’s HOPE program has been successful in attacking the foreclosure crisis from every angle. In partnership with the Maryland Bar Association, the Pro Bono Resource Center, and Civil Justice, State agencies have trained attorneys to assist Maryland homeowners through the HOPE hotline. More than 700 attorneys have volunteers to be part of the Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project and are helping homeowners at workshops, assisting with individual cases, and advising nonprofit housing counseling agencies. The HOPE hotline has fielded more than 25,000 calls since being established in 2008.
At today’s event, Governor O’Malley unveiled the State’s latest outreach tool, a television spot featuring various housing counselors and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) officials encouraging homeowners to take advantage of the State’s free foreclosure prevention services.
“We want to get the word out to our family members, neighbors and friends who may be having trouble in these difficult times,” added Secretary Raymond A. Skinner, of the Department of Housing and Community Development. “There is no shame in seeking help. If anything, the shame may lie in not seeking help.”
In additional to legal assistance and counseling, the Department of Housing and Community Development administers foreclosure prevention loan programs, including the Lifeline Refinance Mortgage Program, the Homesaver Program, and the Bridge to Hope loan program. Collectively, these programs have granted 152 loans for a total of $27,761,061 in assistance.
The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, funded initially with over $46 million, will created 450 affordable workforce housing opportunities while mitigating vacant, foreclosure and abandoned properties. And the State’s fraud investigation efforts have helped identify, prosecute, and prevent scams and other threats to consumer housing. Since February, the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation has more than 80 active investigations underway and recovered more than $600,000 in response to mortgage complaints, including monies recovered from loan modification scams used to prey on vulnerable homeowners facing foreclosure.
In November, Governor O’Malley announced agreements with six mortgage servicing companies to create a streamlined and transparent loss mitigation process for distressed Maryland homeowners. Together, these companies service 23 percent of home loans in Maryland. The agreements are part of the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s comprehensive efforts to combat what has become the worst housing crisis the nation has seen since the Great Depression.
In 2007, Governor O’Malley created the Homeownership Preservation Task Force to find ways to address the crisis and to make recommendations that would help promote and preserve homeownership.
Maryland’s comprehensive strategy includes:
- Emergency regulations, extending the amount of time available to homeowners to seek counseling and find alternatives to foreclosure.
- Creation of the Lifeline, Homesaver and the Bridge to Hope programs to help homeowners who are stuck with exotic, expensive and in some cases fraudulent loans.
- The creation of a pro-bono attorney network that has enlisted more than 700 volunteer lawyers to aid at-risk homeowners.
- The establishment of a framework of operations with six servicers to ensure the highest quality of service to homeowners seeking loan modifications or alternatives to foreclosure.
- The investment of significant resources into a statewide network of counseling agencies, giving homeowners access to free, reliable information about alternatives to foreclosure and resources to help them avoid it. DHCD supports a statewide network of 30 nonprofit housing counseling agencies and two nonprofit legal services providers as part of its Home Ownership Preserving Equity (HOPE) initiative. In a June report, NeighborWorks recognized Maryland as being in the top five states in serving the most clients through the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program.
- The distribution of more than $5.5 million in federal, state and local funds to MDHOPE network members since 2007. Assistance providers have aided nearly 23,000 consumers and helped more than 6,800 homeowners avoid foreclosure.
- The launch of the “Mortgage Late? Don’t Wait” advertising campaign to direct beleaguered families to the counseling agencies as early in the foreclosure process as possible. This includes the establishment of the HOPE Hotline, 1-877-462-7555 and the HOPE Web Site, www.mdhope.org.
- The allocation of more than $18.9 million in federal funds through Maryland’s Neighborhood Conservation Initiative to help local jurisdictions stabilize communities hardest hit by the foreclosure and subprime lending crisis.