It was deemed America's new foreclosure capital in 2012, with a 53% increase in filings last year, but Florida officials wanted a change. So they took the bull by the horns.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, joined by the state's Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, addressed a newly approved $60 million program for housing aid in Florida on Thursday.
The program, part of the multibillion-dollar national settlement that included cash payments to states, will fund homebuyer assistance, legal aid and foreclosure prevention.
"This is real relief for real people," Bondi noted.
Florida’s total monetary benefits are over $8 billion in the settlement, with the $60 million in housing aid just one part of a larger settlement.
Broken down, the $60 million program includes $35 million for down payment assistance, $10 million for foreclosure counseling, $5 million for foreclosure backlog reduction, $5 million for legal aid and another $5 million for attorney general’s legal fees.
"We all know, living in Florida, we have been affected by the mortgage foreclosure crisis that has been in the state of Florida more so than just about any other state in America," said Weatherford. "This has been a long time coming, to know that $8 billion of resources has come to our state to aid people in need, but more specifically the $60 million that we've agreed to in the last week that’s going to help people with counseling, with down payment assistance, etc."
Florida homeowners received billions of dollars worth of direct mortgage assistance from banks. "Almost 50,000 Floridians have received at least $73,000," said Bondi. "That’s a lot of money."
Bondi said $200 million is still going through the legislative process and remains to be spent.
Bondi also took the opportunity to address those who faced wrongful foreclosure, but have yet to file a claim. This group respresents approximately 49% of the harmed homeowners in the state.