For Immediate Release - June 09, 2014

Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s Division of Banks Awards $1.5 Million in Foreclosure Education and Counseling Grants

Money to help first-time homebuyers and troubled borrowers

BOSTON - The Patrick Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation’s Division of Banks (Division) today announced it has awarded $1.5 million in grants to 11 regional foreclosure prevention centers and 10 individual/first-time homeownership centers across Massachusetts to help educate citizens on the benefits of homeownership and the risks of foreclosure. 

“Financial education is an important component for homeowners and first-time homebuyers alike. Massachusetts residents have a breadth of resources available to them, and grants like these are imperative to make the dream of homeownership a reality and help spur economic development,” said Barbara Anthony, Undersecretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

The grants were announced as part of this year’s 2nd Annual Commonwealth Housing Week. To qualify for the grants, applicants must offer foreclosure prevention counseling services, including loan modification assistance, first-time homeownership counseling and/or counseling for non-traditional or high-cost loans. 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. All 2014 applicants met the minimum requirements and were approved for funding.

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.

“Massachusetts is privileged to be home to so many homeownership and housing assistance centers and we are pleased to offer these grants to help support their efforts. Housing counselors can make a difference in their communities and to the individuals they serve,” said Commissioner of Banks David Cotney.

Funding for these grants comes from administrative fees associated with the licensure of mortgage loan originators.

The regional centers receiving grants totaling $1.175 million are:

The individual/first-time homeownership centers also received grants totaling $325,000. 

Funding is to be used in the 2014 calendar year. All grantees must provide a semi-annual progress report to the Division summarizing the program impact, outcomes and accomplishments.

Each recipient is also required to participate in outreach activities scheduled by the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and the Division throughout the calendar year.

The Division of Banks is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation which 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 Division of Banks 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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