Wait Begins for Receipt of Funds
The wait is on in Prince George's County for $10 million from the State Attorneys General Mortgage Servicing Settlement.
Last week Attorney General Doug Gansler announced the allocation of funds. County officials have determined that the funds will be directed to areas of the county hardest hit by foreclosures.
"We will be investing in five areas of the county classified as having the highest incidents of foreclosures," said Eric C. Brown, director of the Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development. "We will focus on the areas of Capitol Heights, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, Upper Marlboro and Fort Washington."
The windfall is part of the nearly $60 million in funding out of almost $1 billion in housing relief, assistance and benefits secured from the recent $26 billion National Mortgage Servicing Settlement.
Prince George's County officials plan to use the bulk of the $10 million for neighborhood stabilization programs and the remainder for education and community outreach.
But exactly when those funds will arrive is the question. And officials say the funds are desperately needed.
"Prince George's County continues to face incredible major challenges with foreclosure in the county and we greatly appreciate this critical additional assistance for housing counselors and other resources," said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
The Mortgage Servicing Settlement is the result of an investigation into foreclosure abuses, fraud and unacceptable mortgage servicing practices. Gansler, joined by the federal government and 48 other attorneys general, secured the largest settlement of its kind from the nation's five largest mortgage servicers: Ally/GMAC, Bank of America [and Countrywide], Citi, JPMorgan Chase [and Washington Mutual] and Wells Fargo [and Wachovia].
Under the settlement, the participating banks are required to contact borrowers directly about cash payments, refinancing or other loan modifications. However officials caution borrowers not to wait to hear from the banks. With the assistance of a nonprofit housing counselor, they should contact their mortgage servicer to find out if they qualify under the terms of the settlement for assistance and specifics about loan modification programs.
Marylanders seeking to contact a housing counselor can call the Maryland HOPE Hotline at 877-462-7555 or the Maryland Office of the Attorney General at 410-576-6300 or 1-888-743-0023.