Friday, February 1, 2013

Pam Bondi informs citizens that there's still time to apply for foreclosure aid

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Bob Buckhorn, Pam Bondi & Bill Foster outside Tampa City Hall on Friday
  • Bob Buckhorn, Pam Bondi & Bill Foster outside Tampa City Hall on Friday
Last year Florida received more than $8 billion for foreclosure abuses in a national settlement with the country's five biggest mortgage banks. Nearly half of that ($3.6 billion) has been given to Florida homeowners for mortgage relief.

The settlement also allocated about $170 million in relief to Floridians who lost homes to foreclosure between 2008 to 2011. This week, Attorney General Pam Bondi traveled to some of Florida's biggest cities to inform citizens that they are still eligible to submit a claim, but have just two weeks to do so.

The claims also depend on if the mortgage provider in question was Bank of America, CitiBank, Wells Fargo, Ally/GMAC or JPMorgan Chase.

"Please take advantage of this," said Bondi in Tampa on Friday afternoon outside of City Hall, flanked by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.

Bondi listed a variety of problems that banks were accused of that would allow foreclosed home owners to have a legitimate complaint: false affidavits, lost paperwork, long delays and "robo-signings."

"We all know those were rampant doing those years," Bondi said.

Bondi also said that those homeowners who are current on their mortgage but have an interest rate of 5.25 percent or higher and are underwater in their payments, are also eligible for financial redress.

Foster said foreclosures plague cities like his as well as Tampa.

"This is your money. You have been victimized. You must apply for it," he told reporters.

Earlier this week, Tampa officials announced a new plan to demolish more than 50 dilapidated and abandoned homes in the Sulphur Springs section of Tampa, a vestige of the foreclosure crisis. Buckhorn said that the state settlement money is another way to improve neighborhoods.

"Cities have felt it worse that anybody. I think at one point we have had over 4,000 houses in the city in some state of foreclosure or mortgage distress," he said. "What the attorney general is doing here today is important."

Last week, Bondi and state legislative leaders Will Weatherford and Don Gaetz announced that the Florida Attorney General's office would spend $60 million of the settlement: $35 million for down payment assistance, $10 million for housing counseling, $5 million to state courts to help with foreclosure-related issues, $5 million to fund legal aid programs, and $5 million to reimburse the attorney general's office.

The remaining $200 million will be appropriated during next month's legislative session for housing-related purposes.

Today Bondi said that approximately 55 percent of those eligible for such relief funds have applied. The deadline is Feb. 15.

Distressed Florida homeowners can apply by going to nationalmortagesettlement,com, or myfloridalegal.com. Or they can call 1-866-430-8358.

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