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Piece by Piece Update

February 24, 2012





Please take note of the following news and calendar items.


Georgia still fourth in nationwide ranking of foreclosure activity
One in every 328 Georgia homes received a foreclosure filing in January, 2012 --- an increase of 17% over the previous month according to the AJC.  This compares to a national foreclosure average of one in every 624 properties.  Georgia continues to hold the number four position for highest foreclosure activity in the country preceded by Nevada (#1), California (#2) and Arizona (#3).  MORE



$25 Billion Mortgage Settlement Announced

A $25 billion agreement has been reached by the Obama Administration, almost every state attorneys general, and the five largest mortgage servicers to help address the nation's foreclosure challenges and establish a new set of mortgage servicing standards, among other measures.  States' Attorneys General are beginning to make announcements about how the funds allocated to their states will be used.  In Ohio, for example, $25 million of their allocated funds will be used for demolition of blighted and abandoned properties.  New York has announced that it intends to use its payout to fund "legal aid, homeowner assistance and advocacy organizations to help distressed individuals facing foreclosure or servicer abuse," according to the state.  A few states --- Wisconsin and Missouri --- have come under criticism for announcing plans to divert settlement funds to plug state budget holes instead of coming to the aid of troubled homeowners and neighborhoods (there is no legal requirement under the settlement that funds be spent for any particular purpose). MORE (Courtesy of Enterprise Community Partners Capitol Express).


Settlement Impact on Georgia 

Georgia will receive a direct payment of $104 million. Georgia law requires the funds to go to the State Treasury for appropriation by the General Assembly.  Attorney General Sam Olens drafted a letter to legislators stressing that the funds should be used to buffer the effects of the foreclosure crisis, but said he has little say in where the money will go, according to a recent CBS news story.  Olens is urging lawmakers to devote some of the money to fund a new effort to prosecute mortgage abuse in Georgia, which is home to more bank failures during the financial crisis than any other state.  MORE



ACTION ALERT:  Tenant Victims of Foreclosure

We apologize for the very short notice, but we wanted to alert you to a hearing taking place Monday on important legislation that offers protection for tenant victims of foreclosure.  If you are close to the Capitol, please consider coming to the hearing ---- the Jacobs Subcommittee of the House Judiciary (Civil) Committee will hold the Monday, February 27 immediately following adjournment or at 1:00 pm in room 132 of the Capitol.  The House Judiciary Committee will be considering HB 445, legislation including provisions to require notice to tenants when residential property has been foreclosed upon; to ensure the return of security deposits to the tenant; and to prohibit wrongfully inducing a tenant to vacate property being foreclosed upon.   The latest version of HB 445 is attached.  For more details about the hearing, please contact Robert Pendergrass at 678-492-1962 or email at  [email protected].



Renters Face Steep Affordability Challenges

Despite precipitous declines in home prices brought on by the foreclosure crisis, low-income renters across the country are struggling to find affordable housing, according to a recent article in the Housing Predictor.  "This is the forgotten housing crisis, overshadowed by the emphasis on foreclosed upon or underwater homeowners," said Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  According to a national survey, an estimated 70% of low income tenants are finding housing unaffordable in the current economy.   No US state has an adequate supply of affordable rental homes or other residential dwellings for low income persons, including apartment rentals.  Georgia is one of 13 states that have less than the national level of affordable rental homes.  MORE
Read more about the affordability challenges facing renters nationwide in USA TODAY.


CredAbility Q4 Distress Index: Georgia Now 3rd in Distress

The latest CredAbility Consumer Distress Index, which is published by CredAbility, one of the nation's leading nonprofit credit counseling and education agencies, tracks the financial condition of the average U.S. household by measuring five categories: employment, housing, credit, how families manage household budgets and net worth. A score below 70 indicates a state of financial distress. Nevada had the lowest score at 59.62, followed by Mississippi, Georgia, Michigan and Florida.  MORE    


Independent Foreclosure Review Deadline Extended to July 31

People seeking a review of their mortgage foreclosures under the federal banking agencies' Independent Foreclosure Review now have until July 31, 2012, to submit their requests.


The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Federal Reserve) announced that the deadline for submitting requests for review under the Independent Foreclosure Review has been extended. The new deadline, July 31, 2012, provides an additional three months for borrowers to request a review if they believe they suffered financial injury as a result of errors in foreclosure actions on their homes in 2009 or 2010 by one of the servicers covered by enforcement actions issued in April 2011.


Borrowers are eligible for an Independent Foreclosure Review if they meet the following basic criteria:

  • The mortgage loan was serviced by one of the participating mortgage servicers.
  • The mortgage loan was active in the foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.
  • The property securing the mortgage loan was the borrower's primary residence.
There are no costs associated with being included in the review. For more information, borrowers can call 888-952-9105, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. ET or Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET or visit The Federal Reserve or Office of the Comptroller of Currency



Georgia's Jobs Picture Remains Troubling

There will be no net growth in the state's employment this year and hardly any, 0.8 percent, next year, according to a forecast released Wednesday by Georgia State University's Economic Forecasting Center. Recent areas of rebound are being overshadowed by problem sectors in Georgia's economy. Gains in professional and business services, manufacturing and health care aren't powerful enough to overcome losses in construction, local government and banking, according to Rajeev Dhawan, director of the center.  Read the full article from the Athens Banner Herald



FHFA Releases Report on Future of Housing Finance System

On Feb. 21, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released A Strategic Plan for Enterprise Conservatorship. The report proposes a path forward for resolving the status of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises that are currently in federal conservatorship. More information will be included in future editions of  Capitol Express and the Enterprise Policy and Advocacy webpage as it becomes available.  (Courtesy of  Enterprise Community Partners Capital Express newsletter).



Calendar Item:  Housing Forum 

The next Atlanta Regional Housing Forum is scheduled for March 7 at 9:30 AM.  The forum will address the potential impact of the Transportation Investment Act on housing, economic development, and transit in Metro Atlanta.  Confirmed presenters include:  Bruce Gunter (Progressive Redevelopment, Inc.); Douglas Hooker (Atlanta Regional Commission); Jim Stokes (Livable Communities Coalition); and Yvonne Williams (Perimeter CID).  The forum will be held from 9:30 AM to 11:45 am at the Loudermilk Center for the Regional Community; 40 Courtland Street, Atlanta, GA  30303.  Please note, the forum will meet at the 2nd floor Amphitheater.  Register now at www.AtlantaRegionalHousing.org/forum 



Susan Adams

Piece by Piece Coordinator