Realtors Suggest Housing Trusts for Mortgage Settlement Money

The Florida Realtors are the latest to chime in on how Attorney General Pam Bondi should spent $300 million, the state’s share of a national mortgage servicing settlement.

More than 1,000 submissions have already been received since Bondi set up a webpage earlier this month seeking input into how the money should be used.

The public has until 5 p.m. Monday, May 14, to provide input.
“We will be reviewing the submissions at the end of the period and will have more information on the types of submissions at that time,” Bondi’s spokeswoman Jennifer Meale responded in an email.

The Realtors and others that are part of the Sadowski Housing Coalition suggest one-third of the money go in the trust fund that supports affordable housing efforts including the State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP) and State Apartment Incentive Loan program (SAIL).

"Using pre-existing programs to administer the [settlement] money, rather than creating new programs, is the most cost-effective and expeditious way to implement the funds," Florida Realtors President Summer J. Greene wrote in a letter to Bondi.

"These programs have a high standard of excellence in the housing community and are used as models for programs around the country by various state and local governments."

The Florida Bar Foundation has requested $32.25 million, going to legal assistance for troubled homeowners, foreclosure mediation programs, a foreclosure assistance hotline and for housing renovation.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, has also written Bondi, offering to set up a meeting with housing advocates in the Tampa area.

"Florida is fortunate to have many nonprofit organizations that work with our neighbors and homeowners to stave off foreclosures and provide additional guidance on home ownership and affordable housing choices," Castor wrote.

The money is part of $25 billion that state attorneys general negotiated with the country’s five largest loan servicers: Ally/GMA, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

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