Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 17, 2012

Mortgage relief available for some in state

Mark Maynard
The Independent

FRANKFORT — Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conwaywants to get a message to thousands of state homeowners who might be eligible for help with their mortgage.

Conway has started a public service campaign to alert people before a Jan. 18 deadline to apply for money from the $25 billion national mortgage foreclosure settlement reached last spring.

Kentucky received almost $59 million and has millions to distribute, he said.

“We don’t want people left behind,” Conway said. “That’s why we’ve been doing some PSAs, to let people know what’s available to them.”

Homeowners who received mortgages from Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi or Ally/GMAC from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2011, are eligible for financial assistance.

The nation's largest banks reached the settlement with 49 states to redress improper mortgage banking practices, including "robo-signing" documents with forged signatures and not keeping track of which bank held specific mortgages.

Conway said Kentucky homeowners who were foreclosed on could get $2,000 without conceding legal rights to pursue other remedies.

Those who own homes now worth less than their mortgage could get refinancing at a lower interest rate or could get write-downs to cover the difference and get their loans back above water.

“There’s a lot of people out there who need to be informed,” he said.

Some of the settlement is being used as legal aid for homeowners. The Kentucky Housing Corp. also has received money, and cities have been given money to deal with abandoned properties and reduce urban blight.

Conway estimates that are as many as 5,000 Kentuckians eligible for settlement money because they were wrongfully foreclosed on. Tens of thousands could be eligible for write-downs, he said.

Conway said between 2008 and 2011 that 67,000 Kentuckians were foreclosed on and that the five banks involved in the foreclosure settlement make up about 25 percent of the mortage market in the United States.

Conway was among a group of about 16 attorneys general who pressured banks to settle with the main AG executive bargaining committee to get relief before five-year statues of limitation reduced the prospect of other legal remedies related to the 2008 economic meltdown stemming from the mortgage crisis.

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.