AG Coakley Launches “HomeCorps” Program and Hotline to Aid Distressed Borrowers and Ease Foreclosure Crisis
Funding Result of Multi-State Bank Settlement Over Illegal Foreclosures And Loan Servicing Program Will Increase Loan Modification Specialists to Assist Homeowners; Provide Multiple Grants Aimed at Revitalizing Communities and Aiding Borrowers
AG’s HomeCorps Hotline at 617-573-5333
BOSTON — Attorney General Martha Coakley today launched a groundbreaking new initiative to prevent unnecessary foreclosures by increasing the number of loan modification specialists available to help distressed borrowers and providing a wide range of grant opportunities aimed at easing the foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts. Joined by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in front of a Dorchester home saved through a successful loan modification, AG Coakley unveiled details of her new HomeCorps program, funded by the Massachusetts’ share of a nationwide settlement involving the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers and their connection with unlawful foreclosures and loan servicing.
As part of the launch of this new program, the AG’s office has established a HomeCorps Hotline at 617-573-5333 with loan modification experts available to assist borrowers facing foreclosure. A designated HomeCorps section of the AG’s website is now open with more information here.
“This comprehensive HomeCorps program will directly assist Massachusetts homeowners with avoiding unnecessary foreclosures and helping to prevent this crisis from deepening further,” said AG Coakley. “Our office worked hard to ensure the best possible outcome for Massachusetts borrowers from this national settlement. These new programs will now allow us to further assist distressed borrowers and stabilize communities deeply impacted by the foreclosure crisis.”
“In Boston, we are a national leader on foreclosures thanks to our aggressive approach focusing on prevention, intervention and reclamation,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Our Boston Home Center and foreclosure intervention teams have successfully saved the homes of thousands of Boston residents and families by offering both education and financial support. I applaud AG Coakley for recognizing how vital these programs are to building stronger communities. The HomeCorps program will be a valuable resource for residents and homeowners in the Commonwealth.”
More than five million people across this country have lost their homes to foreclosure during this economic crisis, including more than 45,000 people in Massachusetts. There are thousands more Massachusetts families on the brink of foreclosure. According to the Warren Group, in February 2012 alone there were 1,394 foreclosure starts in Massachusetts. That is more than double the number of foreclosure starts in February of 2011.
AG Coakley launched a series of HomeCorps initiatives to implement the $44.5 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 earlier this month 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.
The first part of AG Coakley’s HomeCorps program dedicates approximately $16 million to mitigate future impacts of the foreclosure crisis by providing assistance to distressed borrowers in Massachusetts facing foreclosure. Applications for grant programs in connection with this initiative were launched earlier this month. This three part borrower support and referral initiative includes:
- HomeCorps Loan Modification Initiative:
The Loan Modification Initiative offers direct loan modification advocacy to distressed Massachusetts borrowers in order to help many residents avoid unnecessary foreclosure. The Initiative is staffed by a statewide team of skilled Loan Modification Specialists.
- HomeCorps Borrower Representation Initiative:
The Borrower Representation Initiative will provide direct legal representation to distressed borrowers, with the goals of attaining loan modifications, blocking unlawful foreclosures, or privately pursuing other potential claims. Attorneys at civil legal aid offices across the state will be funded by HomeCorps to provide these legal services at no charge to qualifying borrowers.
- HomeCorps Borrower Recovery Initiative:
The Borrower Recovery Initiative is a support and recovery network for those borrowers who lose their home to foreclosure. Its goals are to help prevent homelessness, and to stabilize borrowers’ housing situation. Staff at selected nonprofit organizations statewide will provide supportive resources, such as connecting families to rental housing, available benefits and programs, stabilization assistance, and financial counseling.
The second part of the HomeCorps program will provide up to $10 million in funds to additional programs which mitigate the impact to individual Massachusetts borrowers, as well as those which work to repair the harm to neighborhoods and municipalities. Grant applications for these components can be found on the AG’s website at www.mass.gov/ago/grants. This part of the HomeCorps initiative includes:
- Crisis Response Innovation Grants: This grant program is designed to support and fund strategies and programs across the state which support distressed borrowers and prevent foreclosures.
- Municipal and Community Restoration Grants: This grant program is designed to support and fund strategies and programs across the state which support the Commonwealth’s recovery from the foreclosure crisis, and combat its negative impact on our neighborhoods and housing stock.
In addition to the above HomeCorps programs, other funds from the Massachusetts’ share of the nationwide settlement have been designated as follows:
- Civil Penalties (to General Fund): $4.4 Million
- Legal Expenses (to General Fund): $1 Million
- Compliance and Implementation of Consent Judgment: $1.5 Million
- Supplement Local Consumer Aid Fund (LCAF): $1 million to stabilize a statewide consumer financial education fund.
- Additional settlement funds are reserved for further implementation, HomeCorps programming and grants.
Borrowers facing foreclosures can now contact the AG’s new HomeCorps Hotline at 617-573-5333. Consumers whose mortgage is serviced by one of the five banks involved in the state/federal settlement may also choose to contact their servicer directly to discuss loan modification and refinancing options.
Mortgage Servicer Hotlines:
Bank of America: 1-877-488-7814
Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212
The joint state-federal settlement resolves many of the claims outlined in AG Coakley’s lawsuit against the five banks filed in 2011. The settlement still 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.
AG Coakley’s office has been a national leader in holding banks and investment giants accountable for their roles in the economic crisis. In addition to the national settlement with the five banks, AG Coakley has obtained recoveries from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Countrywide, Fremont Investment & Loan, Option One, and others on behalf of Massachusetts homeowners. As a result of these actions, her office has recovered more than $600 million in relief for investors and borrowers, helped keep more than 25,400 people in their homes, and returned nearly $60 million in taxpayer funds back to the Commonwealth.
More information about AG Coakley’s work during the lending crisis can be found on her website.