March 16, 2012

(Denver) – Rep. Angela Williams (D-Denver) said today she was delighted that $5.6 million from a $25 billion nationwide settlement with big banks accused of abusive loan servicing practices would go to Colorado foreclosure prevention counseling programs to help homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments.

Colorado’s $204 million share of the nationwide settlement is being managed by Attorney General John Suthers. The first allocation of the state’s share, $51.2 million, was announced today by Gov. John Hickenlooper and Suthers, who thanked Rep. Williams for her “meaningful input.”

Rep. Williams sponsored a bill in 2011 to expand an existing housing counseling program with a general fund appropriation. Today’s allocation makes such an appropriation unnecessary.

“I’m delighted that the counseling program will get robust funding,” Rep. Williams said. “It has proven successful in helping working Coloradans to keep their homes, and it will be the ideal mechanism to help homeowners navigate the inevitable bureaucratic maze surrounding disbursal of funds from the federal settlement.”

She noted that the need for the program remained great.

“The foreclosure surge triggered by the Great Recession of 2008 has not ended,” Rep. Williams said. “Currently, 20 percent of all homes in Colorado are underwater, and we’re seeing tens of thousands of foreclosures still on the horizon.”

Housing counseling programs administered by the Colorado Housing Finance Authority are the third biggest chunk of today’s allocation. The largest shares are $24 million for loan modifications for struggling homeowners and $18.2 million for affordable housing programs.

Included in the affordable housing allocation is $5 million to turn the shuttered Ft. Lyon prison near Las Animas into a housing and treatment facility for military veterans. Rep. Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) had sent a letter to Suthers urging that Ft. Lyon be included in the allocation.

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