June 25, 2012
HUD AND OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS HOST OHIO WHITE HOUSE FORUM ON HOUSING
HUD, Treasury, USDA, Senior Administration Officials, along with local housing leaders and advocates discuss programs, initiatives and "best practices" for reviving Ohio communities hardest hit by the housing crisis
WASHINGTON - The White House, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of the Treasury, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today hosted an Ohio White House Forum on Housing to discuss programs and initiatives promoted by the Obama Administration that help responsible homeowners and struggling communities hit hardest by the housing crisis. The housing forum convened Ohio elected officials, regional and local leaders, housing and development alliances and community advocates in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building this afternoon for the discussion.
"Responsible homeowners deserve the chance to preserve their piece of the American dream. Nobody understands more than the families and businesses in communities like Lorain, Youngstown and Toledo - places where that dream is still alive and well - that it is imperative for Congress to move swiftly and deliberately to ensure access to simple, low-cost refinancing tools that sustain and strengthen home equity for all," said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan. "That's why President Obama is calling on Congress to act on his proposed ‘To-Do List.'"
Forum sessions, led by Obama Administration officials, explored tools and resources offered by the Federal Government, and detailed help for homeowners, assistance for underserved communities, insights for cultivating public-private partnerships and the future of housing. Nearly 40 organizations based in the Ohio region were represented, including: the AFL-CIO - Cincinnati; Empowering and Strengthening Ohio's People (ESOP); the Franklin Foundation, Inc.; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Inc.; Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA); Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland; Ohio Association of Realtors; Ohio Home Builders Association; and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, among others. Representatives from the City of Cincinnati; the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority; the office of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH); and the office of Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) also attended.
"Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHSGC) works diligently to prepare residents for successful homeownership, help homeowners avoid foreclosure crisis and sustain the American dream of home ownership across North East Ohio's neighborhoods," stated Lou Tisler, Executive Director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland. "Today's White House Forum on Housing not only equipped NHSGC with additional tools to be more efficient and effective in homeownership preservation, but encouraged vital collaboration, between federal, state and local advocates, for collective success."
During the exchange, forum participants shared "best practices" and provided feedback on the effectiveness of targeted federal programs and initiatives. Forum sessions explored housing reform efforts, help for homeowners, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), rural modification assistance, FHA programs and refinancing initiatives, HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), Project Rebuild, the President's new housing initiatives and legislative proposals impacting housing reform, and the historic $25 billion Mortgage Servicing Settlement.
The unprecedented Mortgage Servicing Settlement is the largest federal-state civil agreement ever obtained and is the result of extensive investigations led by federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, HUD, the HUD Office of the Inspector General (HUD-OIG), 49 state attorneys general and state banking regulators across the country. The joint federal-state group entered into the agreement with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers: Bank of America Corporation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Company, Citigroup Inc., and Ally Financial Inc. (formerly GMAC).
Under the $25 billion national agreement, Ohio's homeowners will receive nearly $321 million in direct relief - reducing principal balances on loans for distressed homeowners and helping thousands more who are underwater refinance. In addition, Attorney General DeWine has committed to using the more than $93 million in benefits and assistance for homeowners whose loans were serviced by one of the five participating mortgage servicers.
Ohio was particularly hard hit by the foreclosure crisis, and many communities are struggling with abandoned properties that detract from the value of existing housing. New foreclosure filings in Ohio totaled 85,483 in 2010, with one foreclosure filing in 2010 for every 59 housing units. Many Ohioans are also "underwater" with nearly one in three mortgage holders owing more on their mortgage than their home's value.
"Right now, millions of responsible homeowners still can't take advantage of interest rates that are at record low levels - preventing families from saving thousands of dollars per year, and preventing our economy from receiving the lift that low interest rates provide," said Secretary Donovan. "Homeowners in Ohio haven't walked away from their responsibilities and we can't walk away from ours. That's why this Administration remains focused on ensuring that every American homeowner gets a fair shot, their fair share and a fair deal."
Under the settlement, participating mortgage servicers are required to contact borrowers directly regarding loan modification options in some cases. However, borrowers should not wait to hear from the banks. They should, with the assistance of a HUD-approved housing counselor, contact their mortgage servicer to obtain more information about specific loan modification programs and whether they qualify under the terms of this settlement.
Ohioans interested in learning more details can contact:
Other useful resources are below:
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on Twitter at @HUDgov or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD. or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.