September 28, 2012

HUD Weekly News Highlights: September 24 – September 28, 2012

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Photo courtesy of the Paramus Post

Photo courtesy of the Paramus Post

Last Friday, Secretary Donovan was in New Jersey with Senator Menendez. (9/22) Mayor Bollwage, Senator Menendez and HUD Secretary Donovan advocate REFI Bill in Elizabeth. In an effort to promote The Responsible Homeowner Refinancing Act (REFI), Mayor J. Christian Bollwage joined Senator Robert Menendez and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan at an Elizabeth residence.

…HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan closed out the press conference by adding that “This is the right thing to do for the families who are responsible borrowers…it is wrong that they make their payments every month and can’t take advantage of the lowest interest rates in our history. We should reward their responsible behavior — reach out to your Representatives and encourage them to support this legislation.”

Paramus Post (Fabrikant, 9/21) Senator Menendez, HUD Secretary Donovan Meet with Struggling NJ Homeowners, Discuss Knocking Down Barriers to Refinancing. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan today visited the home of Ellen Kovac in Elizabeth for a discussion with middle class homeowners about the obstacles they face in refinancing and a proposal by the Senator pending in Congress which would help millions of responsible borrowers refinance at today’s record low rates.

“Too many people like Ellen, Vartan and Bob, who’ve worked hard and played by the rules all their lives, find themselves trapped in sky-high interest loans,” said Senator Menendez. “And yet, they can’t refinance at today’s record low rates and put that extra money back into their pockets or towards the things that matter, like home or car repairs, school or diapers. That’s why I’m fighting to pass a bill that would knock down these barriers and give middle class families some real relief.”

Also last Friday, HUD awarded $75 million in grants to help public and assisted housing residents connect with local services to obtain education and training to find jobs.

Milwaukee Business Journal (Engel, 9/21) Wisconsin housing authorities receive federal grants. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Friday awarded Wisconsin nearly $720,000 in grants to help public and assisted housing residents connect with local education and training services. The grants include $138,000 to the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee to fund two positions, $66,190 to the Housing Authority of Racine County to fund one position and $67,266 to the City of Kenosha Housing Authority to fund a position.

WYTV 33 (9/21) Local Housing Authorities Receive Federal Funds. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Ohio more than $3.4 million in grants to help public and assisted housing residents connect with local services to obtain education and training to find jobs.

“This funding ultimately links individuals to childcare, computer access, job training and other basic skills individuals need to compete for jobs that pay a living wage,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in a press release. “To continue to grow America’s economy, we must see to it that every American has the skills and resources they need to become gainfully employed.”

The Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority received $182,093 in Housing Choice Voucher funds and $59,518 in public housing funds, while the Trumbull Metropolitan Housing Authority received $33,106 in Housing Choice Voucher funds and $50,078 in public housing funds.

On Monday, Secretary Donovan was in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Smith, 9/24) HUD chief calls $25 billion mortgage settlement key to housing recovery. The government is working to get American homeowners above water and help build equity in their largest investment, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said Monday in Las Vegas. The $25 billion national mortgage settlement is key to that goal, along with refinancing mortgages and reducing principal for those who are deeply underwater, Donovan said at the Asian Real Estate Association of America convention at Bellagio.

Nearly 6,000 Nevada homeowners have received $600 million in assistance on their mortgage, or $100,000 on average, particularly in the form of mortgage reduction, Donovan said. Banks get credit from the settlement only if they reduce payments for homeowners to keep them in their homes, and people are able to make three months of payments, the housing secretary explained. “So there’s actually far more principal reduction than you’re seeing,” he said. “Because of the settlement, our hope is that principal write-downs will become not the exception when it comes to helping struggling homeowners, but the standard.”

AP (Ritter, 9/24) HUD chief, Nevada AG tout loan help for homeowners. The Obama administration’s top housing official and Nevada’s attorney general said Monday they hope more struggling borrowers in a region hard hit by foreclosures will apply for a program that could save them more than $3,000 a year. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan joined Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to say that almost 67,000 Nevada borrowers who lost homes to foreclosure from January 2008 to December 2011 should expect forms in the mail telling how they’re eligible for compensation.

…”Given that 60 percent of Nevada homeowners are underwater still,” Donovan said, “it’s critical that families know that help is available … that there’s a safe, free place they can go to get assistance.”

Donovan spoke Monday to the Asian Real Estate Association of America convention at the Bellagio resort. The visit echoed many of President Barack Obama’s campaign themes about the need to maintain a steady course making slow progress toward economic recovery. But the housing secretary said the visit had less to do with the upcoming election than with efforts to spread the word about relief available under the Mortgage Servicing Settlement reached in February with five of the nation’s largest banks.

“We clearly are making progress here. We’ve still got a long way to go,” Donovan said. “Nevada was the hardest-hit state in the country. There are still too many families underwater, still too many foreclosures. But we’re seeing home prices increase, housing construction is up, and the number of underwater families is down by tens of thousands this year.

HUD and Treasury recently released the August edition of the Obama Administration’s Housing Scorecard.

CNN Money (Christie, 9/14) Obama’s housing scorecard. The housing market is gaining strength thanks in part to government programs aimed at helping struggling homeowners, the latest Obama Administration Housing Scorecard released Thursday found. “The Obama Administration’s efforts to speed housing recovery are showing clear signs of traction,” said Erika Poethig, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) which releases the report in conjunction with the Department of the Treasury.

Home values are back to levels not seen since the beginning of the Obama administration and the number of homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage is down 11% since last year, the report said. In addition, more than half a million borrowers have had their loans refinanced through government efforts like the Home Affordable Refinance Program this year. “It is clear that we’re making progress. But with so many households still struggling to make ends meet, we have important work ahead,” Poethig said.

Ginnie Mae’s Mary Kinney was recently featured in Shape magazine.

Shape Magazine (Luciani) 28 Powerful Women Share Their Best Advice. Executive Vice President and COO of Ginnie Mae (Government National Mortgage Association); age 59.

“The wisest advice I ever got was to build my career on what I want, not what others want for me. This means acknowledging that while you may not be the best at something, you can still reach your goals if you possess the passion and drive. That also means taking care of yourself. Exercising and maintaining a healthy diet are essential to helping manage the stresses of a high-profile position.”

Regional Administrator Rick Garcia was recently in Montana to co-host the Eastern Montana Development Forum.

Sidney Herald (Cogger, 9/25) Housing forum held in Miles City. The regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region VIII was in Miles City last week to address housing concerns in eastern Montana in the wake of the current energy boom. Serving as a co-host for the Eastern Montana Development Forum held at Miles Community College, HUD Administrator Rick Garcia addressed the housing shortage and community development challenges due to the large influx of energy workers to the region and the lack of local, affordable housing.

“Workforce development and housing were the two main themes of the forum,” Garcia said. “HUD being one of the federal government’s lead agencies on national housing policy and the work we’ve done, it seemed like a natural opportunity. Forums such as these give us an idea of what HUD can do to help address issues facing residents and constituents in eastern Montana.”



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