Senator Bob Duff and a cadre of political representatives held a gathering Tuesday afternoon to discuss the $21 million influx of fund into the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (EMAP) after a $25 billion settlement with five mortgate lenders accused of predatory practices.
Joining Duff were Attorney General George Jepsen, state Representatives Chris Perone (D-Norwalk) and Bruce Morris (D-Norwalk) and a number of fair housing advocates on the state level.
The money will go to further the effortsw of the EMAP program, which aides homeowners faced with financial difficulties in their times of need.
"The great news is, through the foreclosure mediation program, we have an 82-percent success rate," said Duff during the ceremony out front of the Norwalk Courthouse. "We're literally keeping thousands of people in their homes... It does nobody any good to throw people out of their homes. We keep the prime rate lower by keeping people in their homes and we keep property values up by keeping people in their homes."
Duff called the program the first in the nation, saying the foreclosure mediation program in connecticut has brought praise and inquiry from around the United States as other areas look to adopt the plan.
"I've been on the phone when we get the calls," Duff said later. "They just say 'We love what you're doing. How are you doing it.'"
The program is in place to help keep a roof over the heads of homeowners in danger of facing a life on the streets. Losing a home is among the most disruptive things a person can face in their life, and the program looks to appease the danger of that happening.
Keeping homeowners in their homes also builds stable neighborhoods and maintains the true value of all surrounding properties. Jepsen lauded the efforts of the program as one that has had a real, tangible effects.
"We've seen about $180 million in real relief," he said. "A decline in property values robs people of savings. It robs them of self confidence. It makes the mobility of labor more difficult when you can't sell your house. More than anyone else, it helps homeowners who have lost their jobs and are behind on payments."
About 9,313 homeowners who sought assistance through the program—about 67-percent—have been able to stay in their home. Of those:
- 7,702 (55-percent of total) have found assistance in loan modification,
- 690 (5-percent of total) in reinstatement/partial claim and
- 921 (7-percent of total) in forbearance or a repayment plan.
Only 2,482 of the cases have yet to be settled. 2,049 have decided to move from the home, an outcome considered a success.
Mayor Richard Moccia stressed to those in need that these programs are offered free of charge. He didn't want homeowners who might need to utilize the service passing on it because they thought it would put them further in debt.
"You do not have to pay for these services," Moccia said after the conference. "We are not the people on TV ads looking to make a a profit off people's misery. There are plenty of free Federal, state and local avenues to find help."