State Creates Homeownership Preservation Task Force - Southern Maryland Headline News

State Creates Homeownership Preservation Task Force

DLLR, DHCD Expand Programs to Prevent Foreclosures and Combat Sub-prime Lending Schemes

BALTIMORE - Governor Martin O'Malley on Wednesday, June 13, announced the creation of the Maryland Homeownership Preservation Task Force to help prevent home foreclosures for working families in Maryland. At a press conference in Dundalk, Governor O'Malley declared June "Home Ownership Month" in the State of Maryland and announced a number of statewide initiatives to protect homeowners from foreclosure and predatory lending schemes, known as sub-prime loans.

"Today we are taking another step to protect and preserve homeownership for Maryland's working families," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Homeownership in our state and in our country is the key to a stronger, growing middle class, and we must do all that we can to protect homeownership throughout Maryland."

In addition to the Homeownership Preservation Task Force, Governor O'Malley announced the creation of a new program within the Department of Housing and Community Development - Homeowners Preserving Equity (HOPE) - to help homeowners protect the equity they have built up in their homes, and new efforts by the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to aggressively enforce predatory lending laws.

Standing in front of the home of Eric and Crystal Swanson, who obtained their home by participating in Maryland's the "More House 4 Less" program, Governor O'Malley was joined by DHCD Secretary Ray Skinner, DLLR Secretary Tom Perez, Terri Richardson, a Prince George's County resident who was the victim of a deceptive sub-prime lender, and a number of public officials and community leaders.

"Purchasing a home is the most important financial decision that many people will make in their life time," said Secretary Perez. "DLLR is committed to helping protect Maryland families by aggressively enforcing laws regulating the mortgage industry, and by ensuring a level playing field for Marylanders seeking to achieve the American dream."

"The HOPE initiative is an innovative package of foreclosure prevention measures, combining refinancing, mortgage insurance, incentives, and homeownership counseling to make sure Maryland families can preserve the equity they have built up in their homes," said Secretary Skinner. "It is a proactive approach to address rising foreclosure in Maryland due to sub-prime loans before it becomes a crisis. We're working to protect Marylanders' greatest asset - their homes."

The Maryland Homeownership Preservation Task Force will be chaired by the secretaries of DHCD and DLLR and work to prevent home foreclosures in Maryland. The task force will immediately work to:

1) Collect and analyze data to plan for current and future needs of Maryland families regarding homeownership in Maryland;

2) Identify and review all available financial resources (public and private) to work out distressed mortgages; develop a wide-ranging list of financial resources and programs available to homeowners to minimize the number of foreclosures;

3) Recommend ongoing outreach, counseling, and educational programs and activities that focus on prevention and direct support to homeowners; and

4) Review the current laws and regulations in Maryland and recommend appropriate foreclosure protocols, including legislative actions, if warranted.

The task force will present recommendations to Governor O'Malley in October 2007, prior to the 2008 legislative session. Member of the task force will include non-profit organizations, foundations, housing advocates and counselors, representatives from the federal, state and local governments, government sponsored enterprises (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac), mortgage lenders, mortgage insurance companies, mortgage services companies, and industry associations, such as the Maryland Mortgage Bankers Association and the Maryland Association of Realtors.

Source: Governor Martin O'Malley's Office

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