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Monday, September 26, 2016

Why Florida Is Sitting On $300 Million Meant To Help Homeowners

Why Florida Is Sitting On $300 Million Meant To Help Homeowners

by Cora Currier, ProPublica

Florida has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country. So why is more than $300 million that could help homeowners sitting unused?

Florida was awarded those millions in February as part of the $25 billion national settlement between five of country’s biggest banks and 49 states and the District of Columbia. The settlement resolved allegations of wrongful foreclosures and other mortgage servicing abuses, and required banks to offer some homeowners the opportunity to modify their loans or refinance, or, in some cases pay homeowners directly for wrongful foreclosure.

The banks also had to pay $2.5 billion directly to state governments. Florida’s sum was the largest, after California, in part a measure of how deeply the mortgage crisis affected the Sunshine State.

Yet Florida is one of just a few states where the attorney general has not announced plans for a significant portion of the money. We’ve contacted every state to find out what they were doing with that money. Of the $2.5 billion going to states, just over a billion dollars has been pledged for housing-related programs, while a roughly equal amount has been diverted to plug budget holes or fund programs unrelated to the foreclosure crisis. And $378 million is still to be determined, and almost all of that is Florida’s.

Florida’s funds are caught between the attorney general, Republican Pam Bondi, and the Republican state legislature. Bondi has pledged to make the money available to homeowners; earlier this year, she called for suggestions from the public. Some state lawmakers, however, insist that it needs to go through the regular appropriations process — where it could potentially be siphoned off into other programs. And that wouldn’t happen until March, when the legislative session begins.

“We were very happy about the attorney general’s commitment early on that the money be used within the spirit of the settlement,” said Jaimie Ross, president of the Florida Housing Coalition, an advocacy organization. “But is it just going to sit there until the legislature starts so that we can wait to see how they want to use it? The silence is deafening.”

A spokesman for the attorney general said, “it’s a matter of having a dialogue between the two sides.” He could not give a timeline for when a decision might be reached. The 2013 budget request Bondi submitted to the legislature last week made no mention of the settlement.

  • bcarreiro

    the state should already have this on the agenda …………..putting it on the back burner hoping the people forget will not go away. dialogue between both sides AND THE PEOPLE will determine how the money will be spent and the time is now. the foreclosure crisis can and should be a lesson learned ……..it was for the middle class, now its time for these banks to work with homeowners and make rates more affordable. when it comes to shortfalls these banks are not the ones suffering it is the people who make the banks who they are.

  • nobsartist

    they are waiting to spend it buying the election results in florida.

  • I live in Central Florida, one of the areas hardest hit by the real estate collapse that began in 2007. Our housing prices have dropped dramatically…and our property taxes continue to go up. The tax breaks the GOP likes to talk about simply mean shifting the burden from the Federal to State governments. Make no mistake, the people at the bottom pay the price regardless of what politicians say and promise.

    • dalnb

      Republican Governors complained wanting federal funded programs to be managed by the states using federal funds. Obama did this for several states allowing them to take federal money and manage their states welfare system. When he did it the Republicans immediately said Obama was doing away with the welfare need to work requirements. They made some yardage with it but I think people got the true message that with the flexability for state governorsto manage the programs but Obama also shifted the need for work requirmeents onto the states mandating states responsibility to increases in job development!

  • I lived in florida for 3 years…. this is precicely why the STATES should NOT be in control of our health care, as Mitt Romney wants to do. THE STATES CANNOT HANDLE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF HANDLING ANYTHING THAT IS FOR THE PEOPLE !!!

    • dalnb

      The Republicans use virtually every tool they can find to force their will upon the people! They have used fear, negativism, deceit, mistrust, confusion and anything else they can to discredit the Obama Administration including holding up ANY NATIONAL RECOVERY for no other reason than to gain party dominance!

      Be sure to encourage your ralatives, friends and neighors to Vot Obama back into office!

      Obama- Of the People, For the People. Romney- Of the Wealthy for the Wealthy!

  • HopeforAmerica

    Doesn’t this reek of incompetence on the part of Florida? Florida has been sitting on this money for 8 months while the people suffer. Further, ALL the money should go to homeowners and NOT to plug budget shortfalls in other areas of state government.

    • dalnb

      The federal governemnet should post an “Implement within ten days” notice,make maximum exposure in Florida, and force Florida’s Republican Governor to implement or explain to the residnce of Florida why the money was lost!

  • ronlar

    Sadly, most of the states have dealt with this money in an irresponsible manner. The people who have suffered the most and lost (or who may lose) their homes, should benefit the most; and it should have already happened. It should definitely not be distributed amongst all of the states citizens – it should be targeted to folks who make $150,000.00 (net) a year or less.

  • ronlar

    Legislatures are sitting on this money, while folks are hurting – appears to be a political move – the additional money helping citizens now “may” help people hurt less – thereby impacting votes!

  • AMADAL

    The money Texas recieved will most likely be used to balance the budget. Our great Gov. Rick Perry used the money collected from every electric bill that was earmarked to help the poor and elderly pay for heating and cooling and used it to balance the budget. I truly believe he will do the same with this money as well. He did this while telling everyone the state has a balanced budget along with a surplus. Go figgure. Repukelican–need I say more?

    • Landsende

      Texas, the state with George W. Bush and Rick Perry as governors. Dumb and dumber. And to think one went on to become president and almost destroyed the country and the other ran for president and made a fool of himself. Perry has turned down government funding that would help the poor and middle class but had no trouble allocating taxpayer dollars to help build a Grand Prix race track in Austin pushed by one of his rich supporters Red McCombs, where tickets are priced out of reach of the average citizen.

      • AMADAL

        Amen to that. Beween the two of these yahoos. I am embarrased to admit I’m a Native Texan (One of the few left living here) Those two have made a laughing stock of this once great Democratic state.

  • It looks like good ol’ Ricky Scott is going to get his $70,000,000. back he used to buy the election! I’m sure the rest will go to tax breaks for “the job creators”.

  • Ed

    This is the reason that the repubs wanted block grants to the states. If they cannot legislatively kill a program they can make darn sure it does of underfunding. It is not a new problem, has been going on for a long time. It is the prime reason that CETA(the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) failed.

  • So Tricky Ricky can raid it like he did with medicare scams. Will keep the money for his croonie. How in the hell he got to be elected as Governor.??? He is a crook. I guess old people in Florida deserve him and his shennigans, You voted him in, live with it and be smarter next time.

  • dalnb

    For the same reason America has not recovered from the mess left by G W Bush.

    The Republlcan party declared a “Mission of Failure” on the Obama Administration before the President ever took office. That mission is intended to see that Obama does not get reelected. It is carried out by seeing that virtually everything the Obama Administration attempts to do that may be successful in getting us out of the mess we are in fails. Any success would support an Obama second term; any success would be in conflict with the intent of the Missions goals and objectives. Allowing the people of Florida to acquire any relief from the housing mess would be a success for Obama; the Republicans and Florida’s Republican Governor are not about to let that happen.

    Hopefully enough people will see what the Republican Party has been doing for the past four years, realize the Republican Party has stalled or denied any Fix America attempts, and rid our Congress and Senate of those who have supported the GOPs Mission of Failure!