States Not Utilizing Foreclosure Settlement Funding?

About six months after 49 states’ attorneys general agreed to a massive settlement with the nation’s largest mortgage lenders over their practices in foreclosing on consumers, many of those states haven’t put their payouts to proper use.

The national mortgage settlement, which totaled $25 billion in all, was supposed to have been allocated to helping states deal with housing issues they still face today, according to a report, “States Fall Short on Help for Housing: Six Months after Mortgage Settlement, Less than Half of States’ $2.5 Billion Has Gone for Housing,” by Enterprise. However, in many cases, that simply hasn’t happened. As of today, just $966 million of the roughly $2.5 billion allocated to states across the country for these issues has been earmarked for housing and foreclosure issues.

Another $988 million has been taken by states’ general funds, the report said. Meanwhile, Texas and Florida say they still have no clear plans at this time for the $588 million granted to them.

The good news for consumers is that in most states which received settlement money, the majority of it will be put toward housing concerns, the report said. In all, 22 states — and the District of Columbia — have earmarked 90 percent or more of those funds for housing and foreclosure, and another five will divert between 70 and 89 percent of those funds to the same concerns. In some cases, the shortfalls come because the states have already agreed to put the majority of funds toward housing, but are still undecided about what to do with a small portion.

However, discounting undecided Texas and Florida, that still leaves 20 states that received settlement funds which will put between just 0 and 50 percent of their money to housing concerns, the report said. That includes six — California, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and New Jersey — which have already diverted the full total to their general funds. Georgia and California are, of course, among the states hardest hit by the housing meltdown of the last few years.

In all, of those states that have agreed to put even some of their settlement fund toward housing concerns, 25 say they will spend it on legal assistance for troubled homeowners, the report said. Another 21 will spend it on housing counseling.

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    Many consumers are still dealing with housing problems such as underwater mortgages as a result of the real estate crisis, even as property values have risen in recent months.

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