Attorney General Rob McKenna offered hope for Washington homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments, as well as hundreds who already their homes. Our state’s $1.8 million share from a settlement concerning the unfair lending practices of Countrywide Financial will be used to help them.
"We have not seen the worst or the end of the foreclosure crisis and the data shows it," McKenna cautioned during a well-attended press conference Thursday in our Seattle office.
McKenna urged homeowners to take advantage of housing counseling available by calling the Washington State Homeownership Hotline, 1-877-894-HOME (4663).
Countrywide was once the largest provider of sub-prime mortgages in America. Bank of America acquired the company in July 2008. To resolve disputes concerning Countrywide’s lending practices, Bank of America agreed to modify loans and pay $150 million on foreclosure relief.
This week, 491 Washington residents will each receive a check for $1,884 to help offset the origination fees and other costs they paid when they applied for their Countrywide loans.
The Attorney General’s Office allocated nearly $600,000 to be distributed among qualified housing counselors to provide one-on-one counseling for up to 2,300 homeowners. The grant will also fund 100 statewide Homebuyer Education seminars.
A study found that counseling clients were 60 percent more likely to avoid foreclosure than homeowners who didn’t seek counseling. They also secured loan modifications that lowered their monthly payments by $454 more than clients who received modifications without foreclosure counseling.
The Washington State Bar Association’s Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project will receive $320,000. The program provides free legal services for people facing foreclosure and can be reached by the calling the Washington State Homeownership Hotline, 1-877-894-HOME (4663).
McKenna was joined at the press conference by representatives from the Washington Homeownership Resource Center, state Housing Finance Commission, state Bar Association, Urban League, Northwest Justice Project and our Consumer Protection Division.