Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan toured two rehabilitated Brockton properties Monday to promote antiforeclosure initiatives, including a program funded by the state’s share of a $25 billion nationwide settlement with five major banks charged with making illegal loans.
The state received $44.5 million from the settlement; $26 million has been allocated to HomeCorps, a program to obtain loan modifications and provide other assistance to families facing foreclosure. So far, 473 family clients of HomeCorps have received modifications to their mortgage loans and the program has helped prevent 18 home auctions, according to Coakley’s office. HomeCorps has also provided $19 million in grants to municipalities and agencies, including the Brockton Redevelopment Authority.
“It’s one thing to announce a settlement, but it’s another thing to see it implemented,” Coakley said. “One of my favorite things I do is go see properties that would have been ready for demolition in a year or two in fact turned into usable properties and homes.”
Kate Reynolds nearly lost her Rowley home after her husband was badly injured at his job. Reynolds struggled for 15 months to get her mortgage loan modified. “It was as frustrating as anything could possibly be,” she said.
A HomeCorps modification specialist stepped in, and Reynolds was able to change the terms of her mortgage. “I was very happy,” Reynolds said. “A lot of programs offered help, but the only thing that actually made a difference was HomeCorps.”
‘We’re clearly seeing momentum in the housing market . . . This is a real opportunity to do something positive.’
The national bank settlement also provided Massachusetts homeowners with mortgage relief valued at $257 million; $14.6 million was provided to owners in the state who had lost their homes to foreclosure. Donovan was visiting Massachusetts to drum up support for national legislation to allow families that are underwater — those with mortgages worth more than the current value of their homes — refinance their loans. President Obama has called the legislation a priority, saying it would allow homeowners to save money by taking advantage of historically low interest rates.
“We’re clearly seeing momentum in the housing market, but we have to accelerate it,” said Donovan, who also praised Massachusetts’ “thoughtful and strategic” efforts to prevent foreclosures. “This is a real opportunity to do something positive.”
The Brockton homes visited by Donovan and Coakley were rescued under the Abandoned Housing Initiative, a state program that uses the prospect of receivership to encourage property owners to fix up vacant, decaying homes.