WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 23, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called on President Obama to expand his recently-announced foreclosure assistance program to Ohio. Brown pointed to Ohio’s record number of foreclosure filings in 2009 and the staggering statistic that nearly 16 percent of Ohio mortgage holders are in or near foreclosure.
“I agree with President Obama that we should help those states hit hardest by unemployment and the foreclosure crisis,” Brown said. “But if Ohio doesn’t meet the criteria in the President’s plan, the criteria are wrong. Decline in home prices should not be a deciding factor, as that seems to tilt relief to the states with the most speculation. I’m far more concerned about middle-class homeowners than people who gambled on unsustainable growth in real estate prices.”
Last week, President Obama announced that he would use $1.5 billion in leftover funds from the TARP program to help states with high unemployment in which the average home price for all homeowners has fallen more than 20 percent from peak. The plan will provide funding to State House Agencies to help struggling homeowners.
According to the most recent figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association, 15.7 percent of all mortgage holders in Ohio are either in foreclosure or thirty days past due. There were a record 89,053 foreclosure filings in the state last year, representing an increase of 3.8 percent over 2008. A county-by-county breakdown of foreclosure rates can be found below.
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 for lower payments through Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). Only 14.8% of seriously delinquent loans have been modified through HAMP in Ohio, and only 8 percent of trial modifications have been converted into permanent modifications. Earlier this month, Brown wrote to the Obama Administration urging improvements to the HAMP program so that it helps more Ohio families avoid foreclosure by allowing them to refinance their mortgages and achieve lower monthly payments.
“Ohio foreclosures have almost tripled in the last decade,” Brown wrote in a letter today to President Obama. “Rather than reflecting the rapid boom and bust created by the housing bubble, foreclosures have increased steadily for fourteen consecutive years. I urge you to expand your program’s criteria or expeditiously create an alternative proposal to include states that have suffered prolonged losses due to persistent foreclosure increases. Ohio’s decade-long fight to keep working Americans in their homes should be a reason for inclusion, not exclusion, from any federal foreclosure prevention program.”