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Tens of thousands of Florida residents stand to benefit from the state’s share of the national foreclosure settlement — and they can have a say in how they want it distributed. The state attorney general has received about $300 million to go toward some kind of foreclosure prevention programs, and she’s looking for suggestions about how to apply the money.

Florida’s share of the $25 billion nationwide settlement amount totals more than $8 billion. Most of that amount is going to current homeowners to help with modifying their loan and principal payments, or for short sales or moving assistance for those who aren’t able to remain in their homes.

Additional funds are slated to go toward borrowers who were victimized by unethical mortgage practices by one of the big financial services companies involved in the deal: Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. More than $300 million in Florida will go toward refinancing borrowers who are current on their loans but underwater on their homes.

That leaves about $300 million to be spent on foreclosure prevention. Some examples of this include paying for housing counselors, legal assistance, foreclosure assistance hotlines and foreclosure mediation programs.

Pam Bondi, Florida’s attorney general, is soliciting suggestions until mid-May about how to use the funds. The money is being held in an escrow account until decisions about what programs to fund can be made.

Disbursement of the settlement has been highly anticipated by thousands of Floridians who have done everything they can but still need help. Ideally, the money can get to the people who need it the most.

Source: Palm Beach Post, “Attorney general seeks ideas on how to spend $300 million from foreclosure settlement,” Kimberly Miller, May 7, 2012