For Immediate Release - June 12, 2013

Undersecretary Anthony and Deputy Undersecretary Jemison Bring Commonwealth Housing Week to Framingham

Consumer Affairs Awards over $28,000 in Division of Banks Grant Money to South Middlesex Opportunity Council

FRAMINGHAM - Today, Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Undersecretary Barbara Anthony and Housing and Community Development Deputy Undersecretary Arthur Jemison visited Framingham to award South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) $28,037.05 in grant money to promote housing recovery and stability in the region.

"Centers like SMOC do critical work, providing valuable education to potential home buyers and aiding those who are underwater or may be at risk of foreclosure," said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "Keeping hard working families in their homes rebuilds communities, strengthens local housing markets, and aids in the state's overall economic growth."

"Housing is the cornerstone to economic success in the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts housing market is well on its way to being fully recovered, said Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development. "Through key initiatives and collaborations across state government, we continue to ensure a stable and robust housing market for our neighbors and our communities."

The grants were given out on the heels of Governor Deval Patrick's announcement earlier this week proclaiming June 10-14 as Commonwealth Housing Week.  Throughout the week, the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has toured the state, highlighting the recovery of the Massachusetts housing market and the success of the administration's foreclosure prevention efforts.  As a stipulation of the grant, SMOC will 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.

The Division of Banks funds grants for first-time homeownership counseling programs and regional foreclosure educational centers with administrative fees associated with the licensure of mortgage loan originators. Earlier this week, the Division announced that it awarded $1.3 million in grants to 11 regional foreclosure prevention centers and 10 individual/first-time homeownership centers across the Commonwealth.

"The Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) has made a real difference in the lives of so many families that have come to seek help to keep their homes and to get better educated about their rights and responsibilities as homeowners," said Jim Cuddy, Executive Director, South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC).  "Because of the state's generous commitment to programs such as HCEC, many MetroWest families are successful homeowners who bring strength and vitality to their neighborhoods, the community and the Commonwealth overall."

Governor Patrick also announced the Massachusetts Homeownership Compact earlier this week, which creates a goal of providing 10,000 mortgage loans to first-time home buyers over the next five years. The agreement includes a commitment among lenders to originate a specific number of mortgages to first-time home buyers with household incomes below the area median income through the MassHousing and Massachusetts Housing Partnership programs.

Commonwealth Housing Week will culminate with a Housing Twitter Town Hall on Friday, June 14 from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. with Undersecretary Anthony and Undersecretary Gornstein. You can follow Commonwealth Housing Week on Twitter using the hashtag #MAHousingWeek.

Since 2009, Governor Patrick has worked with the Legislature and Congress to direct over $700 million in federal and state tax credits and state housing program subsidies to projects that improve the state's affordable housing, create jobs and build stronger communities. These investments have generated more than 14,000 jobs and 10,000 housing units; 9,000 of which are affordable.

The Department of Housing and Community Development strives to strengthen cities, towns and neighborhoods to enhance the quality of life of Massachusetts residents, promoting safe, decent affordable housing opportunities, economic vitality of communities and sound municipal management.  Follow the Office on Twitter @MA_DHCD.

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.