Application Period Opens for First HomeCorps Grants
Funding A Result Of Multi-State Settlement With Five National Banks In Connection With Illegal Foreclosures And Loan Servicing
BOSTON — In an effort to reach distressed borrowers and prevent unnecessary foreclosures, the Attorney General’s Office today opened the application period for two separate grant programs of approximately $3.5 million each. This funding is the result of a nationwide settlement involving the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers and their connection with unlawful foreclosures and loan servicing. The programs are designed to mitigate foreclosures and prevent homelessness through access to legal and nonprofit services for Massachusetts borrowers.
The Borrower Representation Initiative and Borrower Recovery Grants are just the first of a series of initiatives to be announced by the AG’s Office which will implement the remaining $37.5 million paid to Massachusetts as part of the national settlement with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and GMAC/Ally. According to the settlement, signed last week by a federal judge, the banks are also ordered to provide an estimated $14.6 million in cash payments to Bay State borrowers and $257 million worth of mortgage relief across the Commonwealth.
These two grants are components of the HomeCorps, the Attorney General’s new statewide initiative to prevent unnecessary foreclosures in Massachusetts and help communities recover from the impacts of the foreclosure crisis. Designed to assist homeowners, the HomeCorps program includes these two initial grant programs, as well as the expansion of the AG’s Office’s efforts to provide loan modification assistance directly to borrowers. Additional grant opportunities designed to meet the goals of foreclosure prevention and community restoration will be released in the near future, all as part of a comprehensive plan for assisting homeowners throughout the Commonwealth.
“These grants are just one piece of a much larger program that we will implement to assist homeowners and prevent unnecessary foreclosures,” AG Coakley said. “We worked tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for Massachusetts borrowers from this national settlement, and we are continuing our work to provide real relief to borrowers and to hold lenders accountable for their unlawful actions.”
The HomeCorps: Borrower Representation Initiative is designed to provide legal services to distressed borrowers and to assist them with obtaining modifications or other relief to avoid foreclosure and loss of their homes. Organizations with the ability to oversee a statewide network of legal services organizations (LSO) offering a variety of free representation are encouraged to apply. Services provided by the LSOs include:
- Loan modification assistance, and;
- Legal representation for pre-foreclosure, post-foreclosure, bankruptcy and other homeownership proceedings.
The will help prevent homelessness and assist the recovery efforts of borrowers after they lose their homes due to foreclosure. Qualified applicants will be organizations with the ability to oversee a statewide network of borrower recovery sites with multiple disciplines and organizational missions, including:
- Community outreach;
- Financial counseling, and;
- Crisis intervention and social service referrals.
Applicants to both grant programs must be non-profit organizations in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service and in compliance with all reporting requirements of the AG’s Non-Profit and Public Charities Division.
The joint state-federal settlement resolves many of the claims outlined in AG Coakley’s lawsuit against the five banks filed in 2011. In Massachusetts, the settlement provides for immediate relief and continued enforcement. It also allows the Attorney General’s Office to continue to pursue claims against the banks for initiating illegal foreclosures in our state and corrupting the Commonwealth’s registered land system through MERS, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System.
Interested applicants can visit the Attorney General’s website, www.mass.gov/ago/grants, for additional information about the application process and to download application materials. The application deadlines are April 24, 2012 for the Borrower Representation Initiative and May 3, 2012 for the Borrower Recovery Initiative.