AG Coakley, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Tour Abandoned Brockton Home, Discuss AG's HomeCorps Foreclosure Prevention Program
HomeCorps Program Has Already Received More Than 7,800 Calls To Hotline Since April From Distressed Homeowners
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BOSTON – On Monday, Attorney General Martha Coakley met with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, Brockton Mayor Linda M. Balzotti and other officials to tour an abandoned property in Brockton and address the steps being taken to combat the severe foreclosure crisis in the community and other municipalities across the Commonwealth.
During the event, AG Coakley announced that more than 7,800 borrowers have called the HomeCorps hotline since April, reflecting the scope of the foreclosure problem in Massachusetts. The HomeCorps program is the first program of its kind designed to provide direct support to every distressed borrower in the Commonwealth and avoid unnecessary foreclosures.
“This Laureston Street home is just an example of the impact of the foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts,” AG Coakley said. “Our HomeCorps program and Abandoned Housing Initiative are designed to help homeowner by homeowner and property by property. Only by fully addressing this foreclosure crisis will we ever turn our economy around.”
"When the housing crisis began in 2007 families across the country were devastated by its impact. We saw home values decline, millions facing foreclosure and far too many saw the equity in their home disappear," said Secretary Donovan. "From the very beginning of the Obama Administration we've been committed to stabilizing and restoring the housing market and while there is still more work to do we've made enormous progress. This project, funded in part by the historic $25 billion mortgage servicing settlement, is an example of what we can accomplish when we come together and do big things for the American people."
“Brockton has the greatest concentration of foreclosures in Plymouth County, and is in the top three state-wide,” said Mayor Balzotti. “In Brockton, we are working collaboratively with local non-profits, state and federal agencies to address foreclosed homes impacting neighborhoods in our community. Programs like HomeCorps help us continue this important work.”
Secretary Donovan and AG Coakley discussed the programs implemented to address the foreclosure crisis resulting from the nationwide settlement involving the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers and their connection with unlawful foreclosures and loan servicing. With a portion of the funds, the AG established the HomeCorps program, a first-in-the-nation initiative to provide direct assistance to distressed borrowers in the Commonwealth. Last week, the AG’s Office awarded more than $19 million in HomeCorps grant funding to organizations and municipalities across the Commonwealth.
During the tour, AG Coakley, Secretary Donovan, and Mayor Balzotti were joined by Robert Jenkins, Jr., Director of Housing for the City of Brockton for the Brockton Redevelopment Authority (BRA), and 113 Laureston Street homeowner Joseph Goncalves.
The two-family home at 113 Laureston Street was vacant and abandoned for over three years, suffering severe code violations and becoming a breeding ground for criminal activities. It is one of many homes in the Campello neighborhood of Brockton that has been victimized by the foreclosure crisis but is now being renovated by its owner under the supervision of the BRA, with assistance from Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI) and funds from the HomeCorps Municipal and Community Restoration Grants.
Last week, the BRA received $250,000 to purchase, rehabilitate, and renovate foreclosed properties in blighted neighborhoods to be sold to low-to-moderate income homebuyers, and to repair and improve homes in downtown neighborhoods.
The HomeCorps program includes three components:
- HomeCorps Loan Modification Initiative, through which AG staff will provide direct loan modification assistance;
- Borrower Representation Initiative, which provides funding to legal service organizations to represent borrowers facing foreclosure;
- Borrower Recovery Initiative, which will help families obtain transitional assistance and other benefits to avoid homelessness.
As part of the recent 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. The hotline has received more than 7,811 calls to date from distressed borrowers seeking assistance, averaging more than 50 calls per day.
During the last few years, the AG’s Office has seen an uptick in reports of abandoned properties and recently expanded the AHI. Currently the AG’s Office has 255 active abandoned properties in the program. Since the program expansion, receivers have been assigned in 36 of the cases and 130 cases have been closed after properties were repaired and brought up to code by the owners. In 48 of those cases, a settlement has been reached with the identified owner and repairs are currently underway. The remaining 171 cases are in some stage of litigation.
The AG’s Office currently has pending and active cases in 31 communities in the Commonwealth, including Fall River, New Bedford, Worcester, Revere, Randolph, Holyoke, Saugus, Brockton, and Pittsfield.
More information about AG Coakley’s work during the lending crisis can be found on her website.