LT. GOVERNOR BROWN ANNOUNCES $11.8 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR NONPROFIT HOUSING COUNSELORS AROUND MARYLAND
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lauren Gibbs – Lt. Governor’s Office
LT. GOVERNOR BROWN ANNOUNCES $11.8
MILLION IN GRANTS FOR NONPROFIT
HOUSING COUNSELORS AROUND
Joins DHCD in Unveiling Revamped HOPE
Campaign to Increase Awareness of Resources for
RIVERDALE, Md. (February 14, 2013) – Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown today announced $11.8 million in grant awards that will be distributed over three years to members of the Maryland HOPE Counseling Network. The Network is a group of 39 nonprofit agencies statewide that provide assistance to individuals facing foreclosures, act as a resource to negotiate reasonable terms with mortgage servicers, and advise citizens on the best actions to take to save their homes. The Lt. Governor was joined by Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Raymond A. Skinner, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, housing counselors, and other state and local officials for the event.
“Today, even as our economy grows stronger and moves on the right path forward, foreclosure is still a significant challenge for too many families, and too many communities, in Maryland,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “These funds will help local nonprofits provide services to 20,000 Marylanders each year – a 25 percent increase from Fiscal Year 2012 – as we continue our efforts to build strong, stable communities throughout our state.”
The announcement took place at Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ, home to funding recipient Sowing Empowerment and Economic Development, Inc. (SEED). Former client, Jennifer Greenwald shared how, with assistance from housing counselors at SEED, she able to receive foreclosure assistance and save her home. SEED is receiving a $420,000 award which will allow them to continue meeting the demand for critical services like housing counseling for deserving residents in Prince George’s County.
“When families come to us desperately in need of assistance to save their homes, it has been great to know that the State of Maryland has had our back,” said SEED Executive Director Lisa Butler McDougal. “Housing counseling agencies are doing all we can to stabilize communities and the economy, and the additional funding will be an enormous help.”
The $11.8 million in grants announced today represents the highest level of funding for foreclosure prevention counseling in state history. The funds, made available through the Office of Attorney General Douglas Gansler and the Maryland Housing Counseling Fund, are part of Maryland’s award from the National Mortgage Loan Servicing Practices Settlement and are being administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development. In addition to increased funding for foreclosure prevention counseling, the settlement also provided additional funding to support legal assistance for distressed homeowners.
“More housing counselors and legal aid assistance are essential to helping Maryland families avoid foreclosure and address other struggles caused by the housing crisis,” said Attorney General Gansler. “Every Marylander we help stay in their home, refinance or modify their mortgage or fix their housing-related credit issues is another step towards resolving the housing crisis and restoring housing values for everyone.”
To capitalize on this additional funding for counseling, Lt. Governor Brown and DHCD also unveiled a marketing campaign for Maryland Home Owners Preserving Equity (HOPE) to increase awareness of the free resources available to assist homeowners through the Maryland HOPE Hotline and website which connects families to housing counseling and legal assistance. In addition to new messaging and visuals, marketing efforts will include increased collaboration with legislators, community outreach organizations, and faith-based partners to increase grassroots awareness of the initiative.
“Research has shown the effectiveness of foreclosure prevention counseling. Homeowners who work with counselors such as those in our statewide network are more likely to reach a sustainable resolution than those who do not seek counseling,” said DHCD Secretary Skinner. “These awards will help counseling agencies serve more Marylanders this year – an estimated 20,000 households in 2013 compared to 15,000 in 2012.”
Governor Martin O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown established Maryland HOPE Counseling Network as part of their comprehensive response to the foreclosure crisis that hit the state in 2007. Additionally, the Administration worked with bi-partisan support in the legislature to adopt broad-reaching reforms, giving financially beleaguered homeowners more time to find sustainable alternatives to losing their homes, and enacting new laws that made the process more transparent and fair. Since that time, nearly 83,000 families have sought help. More than 90 percent of those who worked with counselors through completion achieved positive results.