MORTGAGE LENDERS ANSWER GOVERNOR CRIST'S CALL FOR FORECLOSURE RELIEF DURING HOLIDAYS
December 1, 2008
GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE
TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist joined representatives of the banking and mortgage lending industry to announce a voluntary agreement to provide foreclosure relief to Florida homestead property owners for the next 45 days. Governor Crist encouraged lenders to continue their efforts to actively negotiate with struggling homeowners during the coming months to help people stay in their homes.
“I applaud these bankers and lenders for giving people hope during this challenging economic time,” Governor Crist said. “Struggling families and homeowners should rest easier during this holiday season, knowing that these lenders have heard the pleas of homeowners.”
Alex Sanchez, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Bankers Association, and Aletta Shutes, executive vice president of the Florida Credit Union League, and representatives from financial institutions joined Governor Crist for today’s announcement. Their organizations have appealed to their member institutions to voluntarily cease filing new foreclosure petitions and scheduling foreclosure sales for homestead properties during the 45-day period.
“I applaud Governor Crist’s compassionate leadership. His call serves as a reminder of the importance of the holiday season,” Sanchez said. “He has reaffirmed for the banking industry in Florida our policy of working with Florida families in their time of need.”
Governor Crist commended the lenders for the steps they are already taking to preserve homeownership for Floridians. In October, Governor Crist met with representatives from the Florida Bankers Association to discuss Florida’s economic situation. Lenders have been reviewing alternatives to foreclosure.
“Credit unions have always had the philosophy of people helping people,” said Shutes. “Governor Crist’s call today is an extension of that philosophy.”
According to RealtyTrac, Florida has the nation’s third-highest state foreclosure rate, with 166,600 households statewide being impacted by foreclosure activities in October 2008.
Earlier today, the Florida Department of Community Affairs submitted to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) their proposed plan for distributing $91.1 million in federal funds to smaller urban and rural communities to respond to rising foreclosures and falling home values. The funds will go to local governments to purchase foreclosed homes at a discount and rehabilitate or redevelop them. In September 2008, HUD announced that targeted Florida cities and counties would receive a total of $541 million in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for this purpose. The funds as dictated under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 passed by Congress earlier this year are administered by the Florida Department of Community Affairs, Division of Housing and Community Development.
In February 2008, Governor Crist created the Florida Home Ownership Promotes the Economy (HOPE) Task Force by Executive Order 08-27. The task force brought together experts in the mortgage and banking industries, as well as consumer advocates and policy experts, to review Florida’s foreclosure rate and its impact on Florida’s economy. In April, the task force submitted recommendations, including urging loan services and investors to pursue all workout options and to dedicate resources to foreclosure prevention.
In March 2008, Florida received nearly $1.3 million to support statewide foreclosure prevention counseling efforts. The funds enabled approximately 50 counseling agencies/organizations to provide more foreclosure counseling than ever before to homeowners in danger of foreclosure. The grant to support Florida’s foreclosure counseling intervention efforts was provided by funds from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program, which was approved by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Bill. To learn more about foreclosure prevention resources, please visit www.FloridaHousing.org
and click on “Foreclosure Prevention Resources Now Available!”
The complete HOPE Task Force report of the Florida HOPE Task Force and minutes from each of the four task force meetings are available at www.flgov.com/hope_task_force.