South Florida continues to lead the nation with the highest percentage of working families struggling to pay housing costs.
The region has had this distinction for four consecutive years, according to a report last week.
Roughly 41 percent of 730,777 low- and moderate-income households across Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are spending more than half of their incomes on housing, the Center for Housing Policy says. Analysts say families should devote no more than 30 percent of their pay to housing costs.
Read the full Sun-Sentinel article.
Although lawmakers won’t vote on the $74.5 billion budget until Thursday at the earliest, $200 million has already been appropriated.
The House unanimously passed SB 1852 Tuesday, spending $200 million that is part of a multistate settlement with five large banks for fraudulent foreclosure practices. The package contains spending on affordable housing programs favored by the Senate, and funding for Habitat for Humanity and college dorm plans favored by the House.
Read the full The Florida Current article.
OUR OPINION: Legislature shouldn’t raid, undercut successful Sadowski Trust
We’ve seen this sleight of hand before. Two decades ago, state legislators used money from the Florida Lottery to supplant education funding — not, as they had promised, to supplement it.
Lawmakers seem ready to do the same thing with funds that, for decades, have been used successfully to provide quality affordable housing for Floridians and to encourage developers to build homes for low-income residents.
This session, lawmakers propose to snatch an estimated $204 million destined for the State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP) and the State Incentive Loan Program (SAIL) and put the money into general revenue. These programs are funded by the Sadowski Trust Fund, whose money, generated by a portion of closing costs from property sales, has been targeted before.
Read the full The Miami Herald article.
TALLAHASSEE – Despite a cash-flush budget that has policymakers considering a grab-bag of corporate and stadium incentives, Florida lawmakers are still raiding a fund created two decades ago to help provide low-income housing.
And housing advocates are concerned that Florida’s multibillion-dollar foreclosure settlement – which is being used in part to fund housing programs this year – is masking that cash raid.
Both the House and Senate budgets retain a habit developed a decade ago: diverting hundreds of millions from a trust fund dedicated to providing affordable housing and rental assistance.
Read the full Orlando Sentinel article.
When you make a promise, keep it — especially when it involves taxpayers’ money.
This simple rule is one legislators conveniently forget when they balance the state budget by dipping into trust funds that were set up for other purposes. Like azaleas blooming on the Capitol grounds, it’s one of Tallahassee’s enduring spring rituals — but not so pretty.
Each of these trust funds is composed of revenues that are supposed to be aimed at specific purposes, ranging from health care to affordable housing. The revenue sources for the trust funds are not arbitrary. Instead, they evolved in a way that rationally connects the fee payers to the benefits of the trust fund.
Read the full Herald-Tribune article.
The Florida House and Senate are split on how to use $200 million received as part of a multistate mortgage foreclosure settlement with five major lenders.
The main spending panel in the Senate will take up a proposed committee bill (SB-7146) on Wednesday that would divide the money into a number of areas, including some of the traditional affordable housing programs already up and running in the state.
Florida’s Legislature is once again planning to violate the public trust by raiding the trust fund established to create more affordable housing, diverting $200 million to such priorities as teacher pay raises and health care. At the same time, lawmakers plan to spend $200 million from the state’s share of a national mortgage settlement over bank foreclosure and mortgage abuses on things other than aid to struggling homeowners — its intended purpose.
Still, both legislative chambers earmark some money for affordable housing with developers benefiting handsomely. The Senate proposes $65 million to developers of low-income housing projects while the House plans $50 million to affordable housing developers along with $35 million for Habitat for Humanity.
Read the full Bradenton Herald Opinion column.
This year, the Legislature faces no budget deficit and a recovering economy that has generated an estimated $200 million in Sadowski state and local housing trust funds ($53.40 million for state programs, like SAIL, and $151.41 million for SHIP), as well as an Attorney General settlement that has brought $200 million in bank settlement funds to be appropriated for housing-related activities.
Housing advocates are weary from four years of near total sweeps of the housing trust funds. SHIP programs around the state have long-waiting lists for funds yet to be received. Without a budget deficit, this is the year for SHIP and SAIL to be fully funded.
The Legislature has a constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget. So when the legislature swept housing trust funds to general revenue during years of budget deficit, housing advocates didn’t like it, but there was a rationale behind it. This year, there is no such deficit.
Read the full SunSentinel article.
BY JAIMIE ROSS
Heading into the 2013 legislative session, things were looking good. No budget deficit and a recovering economy that has generated an estimated $200 million in Sadowski state and local housing trust funds, as well as an attorney-general settlement that has generated an additional $200 million in bank settlement funds to be appropriated for housing related activities.
Housing advocates are weary from four years of near total “sweeps” of the housing trust fund monies. Without a budget deficit, this is the year for all housing programs under the Sadowski fund to be fully funded.
Read the full article in the Miami Herald.
TALLAHASSEE — Attorney General Pam Bondi praised Florida House Republicans last week after they unveiled a plan to spend $200 million from a national mortgage settlement on a variety of affordable housing needs for those hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting this money back where it was meant to go,” Bondi told members of the House budget committee.
Lost amid all the back-slapping, however, is that House Republicans are planning to strip an equal amount for housing aid — $200 million — from a separate trust fund so that it could be spent on other priorities, such as teacher raises and healthcare. In effect, they are swapping out what the state already had set aside for affordable housing while claiming they are spending more on it.
Read the full Miami Herald Editorial.
OUR OPINION: Legislators should not divert money from designated accounts
For the first time in years, economic forecasters believe Florida might have a surplus instead of a deficit as it prepares its annual budget, so the time is ripe for lawmakers to end the dishonest practice of diverting funds from specific accounts for use in general revenue.
Florida, like the federal government and most states, has established special funding accounts, replenished annually with revenue from taxpayers. The funds are supposed to be used for specific purposes, like the state’s Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing programs.
Read the full Miami Herald editorial.
It is impossible to undo all the damage done by mortgage fraud and the real estate crisis in Florida. Too many Floridians were harmed, and any remedies came too late to avoid hardships, even financial ruin.
Read the Ocala.com editorial.
Attorney General Pam Bondi and the Florida Legislature have announced the first plans for spending the state’s portion of a multi-billion dollar mortgage settlement with major banks.
At a Legislative Budget Commission meeting next week, Bondi will present plans to spend $60 million of the $334 million settlement on a wide range of housing aid programs.
Read the full Tampa Bay Times article.
It consumed a lot of public servants’ time going back and forth, engaged in a struggle of wills.
But in the end, the accord struck by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and leaders of the Florida Legislature makes sense. The deal seems like a win-win-win for Bondi, lawmakers and citizens looking for help in a struggling housing market.
Read the full naplesnews.com editorial.
An agreement between Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and lawmakers should ensure the bulk of the state’s mortgage settlement goes to deserving Floridians.
Still, voters should keep an eye on the Legislature and make sure it doesn’t divert the $334 million settlement to members’ pet projects.
Read the full Tampa Bay Online Opinion.
Attorney General Pam Bondi assured Floridians that $300 million from a national mortgage settlement would go to distressed homeowners. She can’t keep that promise, though, because she’s given the Florida Legislature control over most of the money.
Ms. Bondi just agreed to get $60 million to homeowners right away. At next month’s meeting of the Legislative Budget Commission, she will seek amendments to disburse the money for down payments and foreclosure-related legal assistance. Ms. Bondi designated $40 million as civil penalties, but gave the Legislature power to appropriate the remaining $200 million.
Read the full Palm Beach Post editorial.
An agreement between Attorney General Pam Bondi and the state’s incoming legislative leaders over how to spend hundreds of millions of dollars from a national settlement over foreclosure abuses is too vague and too late. Bondi has been rightfully pushing to get the money spent quickly on help to homeowners facing foreclosure, but state lawmakers have been standing in the way. What they have finally agreed upon would delay most of the help until well into next year without specifically designating how the money would be spent. The agreement appears to be more concerned with the prerogatives of the Legislature than the interests of Florida’s struggling families.
Read the full Tampa Bay Times article.
After a months-long feud, Florida’s attorney general and the state Legislature reached a deal Friday intended to clear the way for $300 million in mortgage settlement money to finally start flowing to homeowners and communities hurt by the foreclosure crisis.
The money is the state’s direct share of a massive $25 billion national settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.
Read the full The Florida Times Union article.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Friday that she has reached a deal with state lawmakers over how to use $300 million in foreclosure settlement money that has sat dormant since April as top officials have haggled over who had authority to spend the cash.
Read the full Tampa Bay Times article.
After an eight-month delay, legislative leaders and Florida’s attorney general have agreed on how to divvy up $334 million from a national mortgage settlement.
Earlier this year, the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers signed a $25 billion settlement after the foreclosure robo-signing scandal. Some $7.5 billion of that went to Florida, with about $300 million landing in an escrow account while Attorney General Palm Bondi and Florida lawmakers argued over who had the right to spend the money.
Read the full The Palm Beach Post article.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and legislative leaders said Friday they reached accord over how $300 million recovered from mortgage lenders and servicers as part of a national foreclosure settlement will be spent.
The Legislature and Bondi’s office have been at odds for months over who had the authority to spend the money, part of $8 billion in relief promised Florida under the $25 billion national settlement announced in February.
Read the full Sunshine State News article.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and legislative leaders have tentatively settled a dispute over how to distribute $334 million from the state’s mortgage-fraud settlement. Good for them and, if the Legislature keeps its end of the deal, good for Florida.
Read the full Herald Tribune Editorial.
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s impassioned stand last week against turning Florida’s $334 million mortgage-fraud settlement into raises for state employees was nothing less than heroic.
“This money is to help consumers in the foreclosure crisis,” she said. “This money … will not be used for pay raises if I have anything to do with it ….”
Read the full Sunshine State article.
Florida has the highest percentage of home loans in foreclosure in the country. So why is more than $300 million that could help homeowners sitting unused?
Florida was awarded those millions in February as part of the $25 billion national settlement between five of country’s biggest banks and forty-nine states and the District of Columbia. The settlement resolved allegations of wrongful foreclosures and other mortgage servicing abuses, and required banks to offer some homeowners the opportunity to modify their loans or refinance, or, in some cases pay homeowners directly for wrongful foreclosure.
Read the full Pro Publica article.
Attorney General Pam Bondi vowed Tuesday that money the state gets from a national mortgage-fraud settlement will go to consumers, not to pay raises for state employees as one lawmaker has suggested.
“I think we’d all love pay raises, but that’s not what this money is for,” Bondi said in response to questions about a proposal made earlier in the week by Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee.
Read the full News-Press.com article.
Florida is ranked No. 1 the nation for the number of homes in foreclosures and the number of people on the verge of losing their homes.
But the Sunshine state is last in the nation when it comes to in using the millions of dollars in available housing aid from a national mortgage settlement, according to a report released Thursday by Enterprise Community Partners.
Read the full article on The Buzz.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is refusing to back down in her feud with the GOP-controlled Legislature when it comes to $300 million intended to help homeowners.
Bondi this week turned in her 2013 budget request to state legislators. She asked for various items including money for a new telephone system and money to hire more appeals attorneys.
Read the full StAugustine.com article.
More than 1,000 Florida homeowners have seen an average debt reduction of $114,015 on their primary mortgage since the February approval of the settlement between leading lenders and state attorneys general.
The hefty discount meant to save struggling borrowers from foreclosure was mentioned by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in remarks Monday previewing his appearance today at Florida Housing Coalition’s annual conference in Orlando.
Read the full Palm Beach Post article.
OUR OPINION: Legislators should not meddle in mortgage settlement fund
Given Tallahasee’s chronic budget shortfalls and lawmakers’ love of found money, it’s no wonder some of them are casting covetous eyes on the $334 million pot of gold that Florida received as its share of a $25 billion settlement with mortgage banks.
What a perfectly horrible idea.
Read more of The Miami Herald editorial.
TALLAHASSEE – Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is quietly feuding with the GOP-controlled Legislature over who should have a say over more than $300 million intended to help homeowners.
Florida is directly receiving $334 million as part of its share of a national $25 billion settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders.
Thanks to The Miami Herald for supporting the Sadowski Trust Fund, Florida’s affordable housing fund that is the envy of other states, but has been woefully underfunded in recent years. Thanks to Attorney General Pam Bondi for seeking public input on how best to allocate Florida’s portion of the national mortgage settlement.
Read the full Letter to the Editor in the Miami Herald.
Florida is now sitting on about $300 million in mortgage-settlement funds, and everyone from real-estate agents to victimized homeowners has been advising state Attorney General Pam Bondi on how to spend it.
The public has until the end of today to email or call the Florida Attorney General’s Office with suggestions for spending the money, part of a $25 billion legal settlement of abusive-lending allegations reached in February between attorneys general for 49 states and the nation’s five biggest mortgage lenders.
Read the full Sun Sentinel article.
As a strong advocate for affordable housing, Florida Realtors urges Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to put the Sadowski Housing Trust Fund at the top of the state’s list to receive some of an expected $300-plus million due from the recent foreclosure legal settlement with five of the nation’s largest banks.
Read the full Destin Log article here.
Floridians now have an easy way to suggest constructive ways for their state to spend millions of dollars from the proceeds of a mortgage-fraud settlement. Florida was among the states that joined the federal government to sue the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers, alleging foreclosure abuses and unacceptable nationwide mortgage-servicing practices. Florida’s share of the $25 billion settlement is $8.4 billion.
Read the full Ledger article.
Advocates of affordable housing in Florida, listen up: You have a chance to weigh in on how the state uses $300 million to ease the pain of the foreclosure crisis, but you must act quickly.
The funds were part of a court-approved, $25-billion settlement that Attorney General Pam Bondi and 48 of her counterparts in other states managed to wrest from five of the nation’s greediest banks and mortgage servicers to clean up the robo-signing scandal that delivered grief to tens of thousands of homeowners across the country.
Read the full Miami Herald editorial .