ACCPros Stands Against Governors Diverting Settlement Funds from Foreclosure Victims to Fill State Budget Gaps

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The New York Times reports that at least 15 of this country’s governors and attorneys generals are redirecting the recently awarded mortgage settlement funds to fill state budget shortfalls rather than helping homeowners who were victims of abusive foreclosure practices.

To use ordinary homeowners as the centerpiece of the argument against mortgage servicing abuse without applying the funds received to their benefit is to victimize them a second time.

Foreclosure victims, do you know where your settlement money is going?

The New York Times on May 16, 2012 reported only 27 states have devoted all their funds from the settlement to housing programs, (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/business/states-diverting-mortgage-settlement-money-to-other-uses.html?pagewanted=all). These funds are from the April 2012 settlement where five of the nation’s biggest banks agreed to pay $2.5 billion to 49 states and the District of Columbia to make amends for their abusive foreclosure practices

Today, the victimized homeowners cited during settlement negotiations would be surprised to learn that the funds intended to relieve their struggles are being used to fill state budget gaps, close to one billion dollars reports ProPublica an independent, non-profit newsroom. Not surprisingly, consumer advocates including and foreclosure mediation counselors are up in arms, including ACCPros.

The Association of Credit Counseling Professionals (ACCPros) is a trade association representing more than twenty HUD-approved nonprofit agencies that provide foreclosure counseling to homeowners across the country. ACCPros organizations are working on the front lines of the economic crisis, counseling its victims every day. They advise homeowners who have experienced a significant loss or reduction in income, are facing foreclosure, or who are suffering after having lost their home. Most have depleted their savings, and many have exhausted nearly all their options. All are worried about their future. Housing counseling agencies are often their only lifeline. They provide the counseling, information, and intervention services that homeowners need to work through complex financial and housing issues.

ACCPros members are taking a stand and contacting legislators in all the states that were part of the settlement, urging the country’s governors and attorneys general to ensure that the mortgage settlement funds recently awarded are used as they were intended - to directly help struggling homeowners dealing with foreclosure. ACCPros is not advocating that a portion of the funds shouldn’t be set aside for continued enforcement efforts to prevent further servicer abuse. The attorneys general earned their piece of the settlement by forcing the banks to answer for their misdeeds. ACCPros member agencies do take issue when states use mortgage settlement funds to address their budget shortfalls. No state can justify calling the banks to task for their mortgage servicing procedures, and then refusing to use the majority of the settlement for the victims of those abusive practices.

ACCPros believes that the majority of the funds secured through the mortgage settlement must be used to support direct and meaningful solutions relevant to our current housing crisis. Some funds should be used to provide direct assistance to residents who have lost their homes as a result of a foreclosure. Another portion should be used to help support modification efforts that will keep some homeowners where they are, stabilizing our neighborhoods and our municipal budgets. Finally, some of the settlement funds should be used to educate new borrowers to avoid predatory lending and more appropriately prepare for homeownership, helping them avoid the type of financial disaster that we’re witnessing all across the country.

ACCPros urges the nation’s legislators to reconsider how these settlement funds are used, and to ensure that those most in need of help aren’t left to fend for themselves. To use ordinary homeowners as the centerpiece of the argument against mortgage servicing abuse without applying the funds received to their benefit is to victimize them a second time.

Each year, ACCPros members counsel hundreds of thousands of clients who are in financial hardship. To find a counselor who meets ACCPros standards and is able to offer counseling in your area, call the toll-free ACCPros Locator Line at 1-800-635-0553.

ACCPros - Where Consumers, Compliance and Collaboration Matter

For more information on where settlement funds are going in your state, please review the following links:

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Lori Pollack, Managing Director
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