MIAMI (CBS4) – Checks for thousands of Florida foreclosure victims will finally be going out next week, with hundreds of millions of dollars more earmarked for new housing programs statewide.
But there’s a growing debate on where most of the money’s going and if foreclosure victims are really getting their fair share.
Thousands of Florida families forced out of their homes by abusive foreclosure practices will finally be getting some money back.
It’s all part of a huge national settlement against some of the biggest banks in the country.
But it turns out most of Florida’s money, isn’t going to the victims.
With one of the country’s highest foreclosure rates, Florida got one of the largest cash settlements to close out a national investigation against some of the biggest banks nationwide.
Some $8.4 billion dollars in penalties was earmarked to settle allegations thousands of Florida families were illegally thrown out of their homes by banks and mortgage companies using faulty paperwork.
Some of the money was used by the banks themselves to lower their customers’ monthly payments.
Last year, the state itself got more than $200 million for its own foreclosure relief programs.
But it couldn’t decide how to spend it.
That fund’s now grown to $334 million dollars and the Florida mortgage relief act was just signed into law.
It gives millions of dollars to help families with down payment funds, rental assistance, homeless aid and neighborhood improvements.
It also gives $73 million dollars to the state’s general fund.
State lawmakers call it a great victory for homeowners, according to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi who explains ” this money is going to help the homeless, it’s going to help housing for the elderly, , disabled, for neighborhood revitalization.”
But what about Florida foreclosure victims?
Under the settlement, about 72,000 former Florida homeowners will each be getting checks for $1480 dollars.
It turns out the state’s one of the last in the country to start distributing the foreclosure settlement funds. Critics question why it’s taken so long to get the money to local families who lost their homes. and why they’re not getting a bigger piece of the pie.
Weston foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim said millions will be going to the courts, and will actually help speed up future foreclosures statewide.
“A lot of money’s going to the court administrative process to speed the foreclosure process even more, to fund the rocket dockets. It’s a complete and utter joke. For people illegally losing their home and the destruction of the legal system,” said Oppenheim.
For now, there’s no word out of Tallahassee when all the state’s other homeowner assistance programs will kick in or how residents can apply for the hundreds of millions of dollars that are available.
Those $1480 checks are expected to start going out, possibly as soon as next week.
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