For Immediate Release - June 11, 2013

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation's Division of Banks Awards $1.3 Million in Foreclosure Education and Counseling Grants

Money to help first-time homebuyers and underwater borrowers

BOSTON – The Patrick Administration's Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation's Division of Banks (DOB) today announced $1.3 million in grants to 11 regional foreclosure prevention centers and 10 individual/first-time homeownership centers across Massachusetts as part of the Commonwealth's Housing Week.

“Grants like these are more important than ever as the state continues to recover from the housing crisis,” said Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Barbara Anthony. “Continuing to prevent foreclosures, helping first-time buyers purchase homes and keeping hard working families in their homes continue to be a top priority for the Patrick Administration. This money will foster a stronger housing market for the future.”

To qualify for the grants, applicants must offer foreclosure prevention counseling services, including loan modification assistance, first-time homeownership counseling or counseling for non-traditional or high-cost loans (subprime products). Applicants for a regional foreclosure education center grant must also provide outreach activities beyond its own locality and actively serve more than three communities with foreclosure prevention services.

“We in Massachusetts have been fortunate that our regional housing markets have returned to pre-recession foreclosure levels,” said Commissioner of Banks David Cotney. “These grants continue to provide vital assistance to those regions of the state most affected by the housing collapse.”

Funding for these grants comes from first-time homeownership counseling programs and regional foreclosure educational centers with administrative fees associated with the licensure of mortgage loan originators.

The 11 regional centers receiving grants totaling $1,102,862.87 are:

  • HAPHousing (Springfield/Western Massachusetts): $140,080.10, to provide housing counseling and information services to more than 6,000 tenants, rental property owners, home buyers and homeowners each year.
  • Quincy Community Action Partnership: $24,744.33, to provide foreclosure counseling and complementing foreclosure prevention work for low- to moderate-income families at risk of foreclosure.
  • Home Preservation Coalition of the Merrimack Valley: $128,169.39, to continue conducting intensive one-on-one counseling with borrowers, and to host and participate in more outreach and informational events aimed to reach families before they are at risk of foreclosure.
  • Boston Department of Neighborhood Development: $143,093.46, to maintain and expand the work of their five nonprofit counseling partners, establish new partnerships with key organizations assisting homeowners and programs serving linguistic minority groups in Boston neighborhoods with the highest rates of foreclosure activity.
  • NeighborWorks Southern Mass (Brockton/Southeastern Massachusetts): $98,530.22, to hold monthly group foreclosure counseling sessions and one major public foreclosure counseling event, continue providing Emergency Home Loan Program services and to hold 24-30 home buyer education workshops.
  • Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (Boston/North Shore): $64,781.27, to fund the bilingual North Shore Regional Partnership Foreclosure Education Center, including its Foreclosure Prevention and Mitigation Education and Counseling, and its First-Time Homeownership program.
  • Homeowner Options for Massachusetts Elders (Statewide): $46,897.73, to respond specifically to the burgeoning problem of lower-income elder homeowners in jeopardy of mortgage and related displacement issues.
  • Dorchester Bay Economic Development/Fairmount CDC: $135,135.12, to expand their role as Regional Foreclosure Education Center within the Fairmont Corridor, including Mattapan, Hyde Park and Dorchester.
  • South Middlesex Opportunity Council (Framingham): $28,037.05, to provide First Time Home Buyer Classes, First Time Home Buyer counseling and conduct aggressive outreach to provide at-risk home buyers with the tools and information they need to successfully purchase and maintain a home.
  • Housing Assistance Corporation (Cape Cod): $27,862.91, to continue targeting low-income and minority households, including seasonal workers, tradespeople and seniors, and to re-engage homeowners still waiting for a response from their lenders including helping them reapply for modification.
  • Oak Hill CDC/NeighborWorks Center of Worcester: $265,531.29, to provide First Time Home buyer Education and Foreclosure Prevention throughout communities in Worcester County.

Individual and first-time homeownership centers offer programs to train and counsel potential homebuyers about both the financial and physical aspects of homeownership. Financial education courses teach potential buyers about budgeting and savings plans, credit and debt management, negotiating the purchase and shopping for a loan. Other courses provide information about lead paint issues, home maintenance and repair, permits and codes and landlord/tenant rights and responsibilities.

Ten individual/first-time homeownership centers also received grants totaling $197,137.14.

Funding is to be used in the 2013 calendar year. All grantees must provide a semi-annual evaluation report to the DOB and include a narrative of program activities and outcomes, as well as any challenges limiting the implementation of proposed objectives.

Each recipient is also required to participate in foreclosure workshops or other outreach activities scheduled by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the DOB during the year.

The DOB is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and oversees state-chartered banks and credit unions, check sellers, debt collectors, foreign transmittal agencies, mortgage lenders and brokers. For more information visit the Division's website at www.mass.gov/dob or contact the DOB's Consumer Hotline at 1-800-495-BANK (2265).

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the Office at its blog, on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

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