Building off previous events he has hosted to specifically address foreclosures, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) hosted a workshop today at New England Institute of Technology's East Greenwich campus to help constituents remain in their homes and find answers to a wide range of housing-related questions. Joined by representatives from Rhode Island Housing, local banks and credit unions, and housing non-profits, Langevin kicked off the Navigating Homeownership 2012 Resource Workshop by noting the importance of the housing market to the state's overall economy.
"We cannot have a full economic recovery in Rhode Island and across the country until we stem the tide of foreclosures, which is dragging down home values. While I continue to push for stronger efforts at the federal level to provide refinancing opportunities to those harmed most by the recession, it is also vital to ensure homeowners have access to organizations already offering assistance," said Langevin.
"From the federal level to our local communities and neighborhoods, we must take action to stave off further foreclosures, help those families who have already been forced out of their homes, and ensure that the appropriate measures are in place to prevent this kind of crisis in the future."
Langevin addressed a pair of specific initiatives undertaken to bring down the state's high foreclosure rate and encouraged attendees to learn more about them and similar efforts. One program he has supported, the U.S. Treasury Department's Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for Hardest-Hit Housing markets, has allocated $79.3 million to Rhode Island for loan modification assistance, temporary homeowner assistance, and help with moving costs for those that cannot stay in their homes.
In addition, a February settlement between the nation's biggest mortgage lenders and the state attorneys general, including Rhode Island's Peter Kilmartin, will provide relief to struggling homeowners, with Rhode Island receiving $172 million of the $25 billion deal to help struggling families reduce their mortgage payments and provide foreclosed-upon homeowners with a lump sum payment.
"These programs and others that we'll hear about at today's workshop are important steps in getting you and our state back on the right housing track, and I pledge to do all I can both in Rhode Island and in Washington to respond to the economic challenges we are facing," said Langevin. "I thank Rhode Island Housing for providing its expertise and the organizations that have readily accepted my invitation for volunteering to work with families struggling to stay in their homes."
Following presentations about common homeownership challenges from Rhode Island Housing Director of External Relations Peter Walsh, Stephen Antoni, past president of Rhode Island Realtors, and Tammy Miller, Director of the Consumer Protection Unit in the state's Attorney General's Office, attendees had the chance to meet individually or in smaller groups about their specific questions. Among the organizations in attendance were: Rhode Island Housing, Office of the Rhode Island Attorney General, Stop Wasting Abandoned Properties Inc. (SWAP), Bank of America, Centerville Bank, Coastway Bank and Home Loan Bank.
Topics of discussion included mortgage remodifications for current homeowners, information on averting foreclosures and best practices for avoiding scams in today's housing market. In addition, further information was available about the recent settlement with major mortgage lenders and how it will restore some of the damage certain banks caused through reckless foreclosure practices.