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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2011
Attorney General heralds more bank settlement money to assist struggling homeowners

SHORELINE – Proving once again its commitment to helping Washington homeowners avoid foreclosure, the Attorney General’s Office today provided an additional $550,000 to provide free housing counseling to distressed homeowners.

“Housing counselors are lifelines for borrowers on the brink of losing their homes,” McKenna said. “The work of these counselors is important because preventing foreclosures – and stabilizing home values – is key to helping kick-starting our economy.”

McKenna spoke from the offices of the Homeownership Resource Center in Shoreline, where thousands of calls come in every month from borrowers struggling to keep their homes.

The money comes from an October 2010 agreement with Wells Fargo concerning Wachovia loans and will be given to Washington State Housing Finance Commission to fund services available through the Washington State Homeownership Hotline, 1-877-894-HOME (4663) and www.homeownership.wa.gov

The grant, combined with other funding sources, will pay for one-on-one counseling to an estimated 2,770 homeowners in danger of losing their homes, as well as training for housing counselors and 90 educational seminars targeted toward both potential homebuyers and those seeking to prevent foreclosures.

“Housing counselors are providing hope and opportunities all across the state for people who feel hopeless and abandoned and believe they have nowhere to turn for help,” Karen Miller, Chair of Washington State Housing Finance Commission, said. “These grant funds make a significant difference in the ability of housing counseling agencies to cover the costs of helping people avoid losing their homes.”

The Attorney General's Office previously granted $600,000 from the Countrywide/Bank of America settlement to the program.

study found that homeowners are 60 percent more likely to avoid foreclosure when they receive counseling and more likely to secure loan modifications that lower their monthly payments.

Additionally, the office has provided grants to the Washington State Bar Association’s Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project, which provides free legal services to homeowners facing foreclosure. Those included more than $1 million from the Wells Fargo/Wachovia settlement and $320,000 from the Countrywide/Bank of America settlement.

The Attorney General’s Office has earmarked the remaining $60,000 from the Wells Fargo/Wachovia settlement for law school clinics to assist low-income consumers.

The state’s new Foreclosure Fairness Act provides distressed borrowers with the opportunity to be referred by a housing counselor or attorney to mediation with their lender.

Additional resources for homeowners and information about the Attorney General’s work can be found at www.atg.wa.gov/foreclosure.aspx.

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Contacts:
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725

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