Washington AG announces money for Countrywide customers

Chris Rizo Feb. 12, 2010, 4:48am

Rob McKenna (R)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline)-Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said Thursday that the Evergreen State has more than $1.8 million for local foreclosure prevention programs and cash for struggling homebuyers.

McKenna, a Republican, made the announcement with the Washington Homeownership Resource Center, Washington State Housing Finance Commission and the Washington Bar Association the same day a report showed that foreclosure filings in Washington in January were up more than 11 percent over the same month last year.

"The foreclosure prevention programs we're funding are lifelines for Washington homeowners," McKenna said. "Nationally, one in seven homeowners is already behind on their mortgage payments. By helping families now, we have a chance to slow rising default rates and help heal our communities."

The money is part of the $150 million that Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America will spend nationwide on foreclosure relief. The money came from a multistate settlement Bank of America agreed to last year with state attorneys general to resolve claims of unfair lending practices by Countrywide Financial Corp.

Bank of America acquired Calabasas, Calif.-based Countrywide in June 2008.

McKenna said Washington's share of the Bank of America settlement will provide more than $925,000 in restitution to Washington residents who lost their homes.

The attorney general said checks are being mailed Friday to 491 Washington residents, who will each receive $1,884 to help offset the origination fees and other costs they paid when they applied for their Countrywide loans.

The settlement also provides almost $600,000 to be distributed among qualified housing counselors to provide one-on-one counseling for up to 2,300 homeowners. The grant will also fund 100 statewide Homebuyer Education seminars.

"Our settlement also addresses future loans, so generations of homeowners can live the American dream instead of a refinancing nightmare," McKenna said.

Also, $320,000 will go to the Washington State Bar Association to fund the Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project for pro bono legal services to homeowners facing foreclosure, while $10,000 will go to help the State Foreclosure Prevention Working Group, composed of a dozen state attorneys general and banking regulators.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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