WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 29, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that Ohio will receive $172 million to help communities address the foreclosure crisis. The funds will come from the Help for the Hardest-Hit Housing Markets (4HM) program. While Ohio was not among the initial five states included in this program when it was launched on Feb. 19, Brown made direct appeals to President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner to dedicate additional funds for this program. The 4HM program, which uses leftover funds from the TARP program passed in 2008, will be expanded today to five additional states – including Ohio.
“This is a victory for Ohio communities,” Brown said. “Ohio is at the frontline of the foreclosure crisis and should have all the resources necessary to rebuild our communities. Too many Ohioans are trying to modify their mortgages so they can hold onto their homes, but getting nothing but the run around from their lenders. Too many communities are seeing vacant and abandoned properties that lower surrounding property values and compromise economic development. These homeowners and communities deserve more assistance and today the federal government is giving it to them.”
On Feb. 19, President Obama announced that he would use $1.5 billion in funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to help states with high unemployment in which the average home price for all homeowners has fallen more than 20 percent from peak. While Ohio was not included in this announcement, Brown immediately called on President Obama to expand the Help for the Hardest-Hit Housing Markets (4HM) program to include Ohio. He raised the issue with him again, in a direct conversation aboard Air Force One on March 15. Brown also raised the issue with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on March 11.
Brown is also working to improve the federal loan modification program so that more Ohioans can lower their monthly payments and stay in their homes. In February, Brown wrote to U.S. Secretary Geithner to suggest improvements to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) so that more Ohio families avoid foreclosure. HAMP was designed to encourage banks to modify mortgages to make lower payments and prevent foreclosure. Ohio continues to rank forty-eighth among the fifty states and the District of Columbia in the number of homeowners who have been able to modify their mortgages through HAMP. Only 14.8 percent of seriously delinquent loans have been modified through HAMP in Ohio, and only 8 percent of trial modifications have been converted into permanent modifications. Brown also urged more federal funding for foreclosure prevention counseling programs.
Brown has also been a long-time advocate of efforts to help revitalize communities devastated by the foreclosure crisis, including the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). He fought for the creation of NSP in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and the continuation of the program in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. In Sep. 2008, Brown announced that Ohio communities would receive more than $258 million in NSP funds authorized by the housing bill. In Sep. 2009, Brown wrote to Secretary Donovan in support of Ohio applicants to the second wave of funding through the NSP program. In Jan. 2010, Ohio communities received an additional $175 million in funds through the second wave of the program. Brown also introduced the Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act of 2009 with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Brian Higgins (D-NY). This legislation would create a new, competitive grant program within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) targeted toward cities and metropolitan areas experiencing large-scale property vacancy and abandonment due to long-term employment and population losses.