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Bar association offers foreclosure legal clinic

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PORTSMOUTH — For the hundreds of New Hampshire homeowners facing foreclosure or foreclosure-related financial and legal problems, free help is now available.

The N.H. Foreclosure Relief Project will host a free public foreclosure clinic in Portsmouth from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17, at the Portsmouth Public Library. Homeowners who attend the clinic can meet one-on-one with an attorney who specializes in mortgage and foreclosure cases to formulate a plan to avoid, cope with or fight foreclosure, depending on individual circumstances.

Seating is limited and pre-registration is required. To register, call Vanessa Beauchesne, project coordinator of the N.H. Foreclosure Relief Project at the N.H. Bar Association, at 715-3255 or e-mail

Funded by a portion of New Hampshire’s share of the national mortgage settlement, the N.H. Foreclosure Relief Project is a collaboration of the N.H. Bar Association’s Legal Services Department, New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center of New Hampshire.


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C. Fla. foreclosure inventory falls in July


The foreclosure inventory for the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan was 4.6 percent in July, according to a new report out from California-based real estate tracker CoreLogic.

Megan Ribbens
Web Producer- Orlando Business Journal


The foreclosure inventory in metro Orlando declined in July, a positive sign for the housing market, according to a recent CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) report.

The foreclosure inventory for the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan was 4.6 percent in July, the latest data available.

That’s a decrease of 3.6 percentage points from the year-ago period.

For the 12 months ending in July, 13,817 foreclosures were completed compared to 12,244 for the same period last year.

In addition, 8.9 percent of homes in Central Florida had a serious delinquency rate.

According to CoreLogic, completed foreclosures indicate the total number of homes actually lost to foreclosure. Housing market health is considered a bellwether for the economy as a whole, and fewer bank repossessions indicate a stronger homeowner market.

Statewide, the Sunshine State reported a 4.8 percent foreclosure inventory, a 3.5 percentage point drop from July 2013. Overall, the state had 120,479 completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in July 2014.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Nationally, the 1.7 percent a decline of 0.8 percentage point compare to July 2013. In addition, there were a total of 45,000 completed foreclosures across the country.
  • July represents 18 consecutive months of at least a 20-percent year-over-year decline in the national inventory of foreclosed homes.
  • Nationwide, Florida had the highest number of completed foreclosures for the 12 months ending in July.
  • The Sunshine State also had the second-highest foreclosure inventory as a percentage of all mortgaged homes at 4.8 percent.

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Facing foreclosure: Pushkin, Arts Block on auction block

GREENFIELD — The Pushkin and Arts Block buildings — popular entertainment venues seen as key components of the town’s downtown rejuvenation — are in foreclosure, with the properties set to be auctioned Sept. 22.

The Pushkin, at Main and Federal streets, was bought by Edward Wierzbowski in 2008 after he bought the Arts Block at Main Street and Court Square in 2007.

The auction comes from the foreclosure of more than $3.7 million in loans to Arts Block LLC and Pushkin LLC. The loans are held by the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp., a nonprofit collaborative of banks, mainly focused on providing affordable housing.

The loans were used to renovate both buildings in 2010.

Wierzbowski is confident that he will be able to get the properties out of foreclosure.

“I think there will be a solution,” he said.

He called the situation “very complicated,” and declined further comment Friday.

Wierzbowski paid $390,000 for the Arts Block, according to the Franklin District Registry of Deeds. Built in 1876, the building was formerly known as the Arms Block and past home to Clark’s Sport Shop for many years.

The building now houses a performance space and bar, as well as the Smithsonian Cafe and Chowderhouse. Its upper floors house office, performance and studio space for rent.

Smithsonian owner Peter Langlois could not be reached Friday for comment.

The Pushkin building cost Wierzbowski $500,000. Built in 1911, it is the former home of the Franklin Savings Bank. Wierzbowski managed an art gallery in the Pushkin before he bought the building.

The Pushkin is now home to Replay, which sells used instruments and other secondhand items and also hosts musical performances. The owner, Allan Cadran, was surprised by the news of the foreclosure.

“I was completely caught off-guard,” said Cadran.

Replay has been in Greenfield for more than four years. In June, the business moved into the Pushkin from its former Main Street storefront.

If the building is sold and the new owner doesn’t want to rent to Replay, Cadran said he will find another home for his business in town. For now, he said, it will be business as usual.

Cadran said he’s optimistic that Wierzbowski will be able to pull out of foreclosure.

“I’ve known people that have come up with the money the day before a property auction,” Cadran said.

The purchase prices for the buildings pale in comparison to the cost of renovations.

The $5 million spent on renovations was mostly borrowed money. The work included building repairs as well as the installation of a 100-well geothermal heating and cooling system at the Arts Block, and a similar system at the Pushkin.

These systems earned the projects a combined $74,195 from the federal government.

The MHIC loaned $2.2 million for the Arts Block renovations and $1.5 million for the Pushkin project, according to the Registry of Deeds.

How much remains to be paid is unclear. MHIC staff could not be reached for comment Friday.

The Registry shows another outstanding loan for $1 million, from Greenfield Savings Bank to both the Arts Block and Pushkin in 2010.

State historic tax credits were also used to renovate the buildings. A Main Street facade improvement program spearheaded by the town helped to fix the exteriors of both buildings.

Wierzbowski received $300,000 in state historic tax credits to renovate the Arts Block, and $175,000 of the same for the Pushkin project.

The renovations earned the buildings the Massachusetts Historical Commission Historic Preservation Award in 2012. The nearby Allen Block also earned the award.

The renovations of the Arts Block and Pushkin were part of an effort to revitalize downtown Greenfield. Across the common from the Arts Block, Northampton developer Jordi Herold fixed up the Allen Block, three buildings at the corner of Main Street and Bank Row. They now house Greenfield Coffee, Seymour Pub, Greenfield Community Accupuncture, a lawyer’s office and several apartments.

Herold was surprised by the news of the foreclosure. The Pushkin and Arts Block and the entertainment venues they provide, he said, are an important part of revitalizing Greenfield.

“They occupy two of the four corners of the main intersection in town,” he said. “Those two buildings are signposts for Greenfield and its redevelopment. To me, it’s important that they stay lit. I’m confident that Ed will find a way to keep that going.”

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Rap mogul’s Suffern home facing foreclosure auction

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AG Schneiderman Sues Long Island & Florida Companies for Defrauding …


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Family feuding and fighting leads to woman going to hospital: Strongsville … – Sun News


Family feud, Royalton Road: Police were called at 1:21 a.m. Aug. 24 to break up a family fight taking place in the Holiday Inn parking lot.

The officer found one woman with a laceration to her head, and two men who were fighting over which one could best help the injured lady.

The woman was taken to the hospital, while the men went to bed. 

Robbery, Pearl Road: Police were called at 6:34 p.m. Aug. 23 after a man at gunpoint stole three phones from a woman who had just left the Verizon store. An employee said the suspect left in a light blue or green minivan. Police are investigating. 

Suspicious situation, Huntington Park Drive: A resident called police at 7:08 p.m. Aug. 23 to report two teenagers were having sex on a bridge west of Huntington Park Drive. The caller said the teens are there every Saturday. An officer was unable to locate the lovebirds. 

Bonfire, W. 130th Street: A concerned resident called police at 9:41 p.m. Aug. 24 to report a neighbor had a large bonfire that was dangerously close to a shed. The officer said the fire was legal but he advised the homeowner to tone down the blaze a bit.

Not so hot dog, Pearl Road: An animal lover flagged down a police officer at 12:53 p.m. Aug. 25 to report a dog was locked in a car at the Salvation Army.

She was worried it was too hot out and the dog was suffering. The officer found the car owner, who was not happy to be bothered. He pointed out the inside of the car wasn’t hot.

Property damage, Southporte Drive: A realtor called police at 1:32 p.m. Aug. 25 after she went to a home to prepare it for listing. What she found was the previous tenants, who were evicted, trashed the house. The homeowner’s attorney asked that she file a police report regarding the damage.

Disturbance, Lunn Road: A woman called police at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 21 to report a large, dirty dog jumped into her truck bed and made a mess. When she confronted the dog owner about the issue, the woman gave her attitude.

The police talked to the dog owner, who said the other woman had an attitude. Nevertheless, the officer advised the dog owner about the city’s leash law.

Suspicious person, Pearl Road: Police were called at 1:09 p.m. Aug. 21 after someone called to say there was a dangerous-looking shoeless man whose pants were falling down. Police found the guy and gave him a belt.

The man said he was on his way to the library.

Disorderly conduct, Royalton Road: An Ehrnfelt Recreation Senior Center employee called police at 1:25 p.m. Aug. 21 to report a man was making a disturbance.

Apparently, the man was upset the center’s fees had been increased. The center agreed to refund his money but asked that he didn’t return. The man was told if he did come back to the center he would be arrested for trespassing.

Suspicious situation, SouthPark Mall: A concerned resident called police at 5:11 p.m. Aug. 21 to report Spencer Gifts was selling inappropriate items to children.

The officer talked to store employees, who said they do their best to keep kids out of the adult section and won’t sell items to children.

Locked out, Royalton Road: Police were called at 6:54 p.m. Aug. 21 after a cleaning woman locked herself out of the bank she was cleaning. A bank employee showed up a few minutes later to let her back into the building. 

Accidental theft, Howe Road: A resident called police at 9:10 a.m. Aug. 22 to say the Purple Heart truck picking up donated items had previously confused boxes left out for donation with post office deliveries on her front porch.

The first time she caught the mistake before the driver left; however, the day before she had two packages delivered which are now missing. She also pointed out she saw a Purple Heart truck on the street the day before.

The woman said the two items – a Pepsi umbrella and an engine cover – missing were valued at $30.

Suspicious person, Forestview Drive: Police were called at 4:23 p.m. Aug. 22 regarding a teenager wearing a dark shirt, dark shorts and blue shoes with a buzzcut standing on a street corner holding either a real gun or a BB gun.

An officer talked to the juvenile, who said he didn’t have a gun even though he fit the description the witness gave. The officer also talked to the teenager’s grandfather, who said he would confiscate the gun in question.

Suspicious person, Sand Creek Drive: A woman called police at 1:59 p.m. Aug. 26 to report she saw a man in front of her house taking pictures. It turns out the house was previously in foreclosure and the bank keeps sending people out to take pictures.

The woman said she’d contact the bank to stop sending photographers.

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New Jersey missing out on Bank of America settlement riches: Opinion

By Phyllis Salowe-Kaye

Once again, Gov. Chris Christie has been asleep at the wheel and is leaving New Jersey’s middle-class and working families on the side of the road as he whizzes by, crisscrossing the country. We’ve seen Christie leave millions on the table that could help New Jerseyans several times before — this time, he’s left the state out of the running to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in relief for struggling home¬own¬ers facing foreclosure.

While six other states have been aggressively investigating banks involved in bad mortgage-lending practices by taking part in a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank Of America, New Jersey has stood on the sidelines. At Christie’s direction, acting state Attorney General John Hoffman completely missed the boat to bring anywhere from $45 million to $300 million in foreclosure relief and prevention programs into New Jersey from a Bank of America settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The most galling part is that Christie allowed this to transpire despite the fact that, while rates nationally have fallen to their lowest rates since 2008, New Jersey leads the nation with the highest percentage of mortgage loans in foreclosure.

It has been six years since the foreclosure crisis began sweeping through New Jersey, ruining lives and devastating entire neighborhoods. Yet, Christie has consistently been missing in action when it comes to fighting this completely man-made foreclosure disaster.

The governor vetoed multiple bipartisan bills designed to mitigate the fallout from the foreclosure crisis. In 2012, he even used more than $75 million in money meant for foreclosure prevention from another multi-bank settlement to plug the state’s budget and give tax breaks to the super-rich. For nine months, the Christie administration withheld $300 million targeted for home¬own¬ers who lost their jobs in the financial crisis because of an inability to get the money out the door. Today, there is not one single dime in the state budget allocated to foreclosure assistance.

Thanks to the Christie administration’s apparent disinterest in the foreclosure problem, New Jersey will lose out in significant relief to the home¬own¬ers who need it most. If Christie had prioritized investigations into faulty residential mortgage-backed securities it could have been a party to the largest bank settlement in history. If the state had aggressively pursued banks who harmed borrowers in our state, the administration could have received relief money to grant capacity-building funds to free HUD-certified counseling agencies that are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of clients for whom they’re providing one–on-one counseling. It could also have provided funds for legal services greatly needed to help homeowners navigate the difficult and complicated path to keeping their homes. Settlement money could have been used to fund temporary but successful programs such as the New Jersey HMFA HomeKeeper Program, as well as long-term comprehensive programs such as Re-Start, spearheaded by New Jersey Community Capital and the New Jersey Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Revolving Trust Fund recently established in a bill passed by the state Senate.

Christie simply cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the devastation our state is experiencing due to foreclosures on his watch. If he somehow starts to immediately focus on the problem, there is still the possibility that some residents can benefit from a portion of the additional relief that Bank of America is required to provide through the settlement.

But only if he acts now. Relief could include principal reductions and loan modifications to correct underwater mortgages, new loans to credit-worthy borrowers, donations to assist communities in recovering from the financial crisis, and financing for affordable rental housing. With one of America’s worst records for foreclosure prevention, the Christie administration has to wake up and do everything in its power to persuade BOA to bring extensive relief to New Jersey. Going forward, the administration needs to aggressively investigate all wrongdoing by banks and implement strong and effective foreclosure prevention policies.

We call on Christie to get off this road to nowhere and reverse course. It’s time to stop turning his back on much-needed money and bring as much relief as possible to desperate homeowners — from this settlement, as well as all future settlements.

Phyllis Salowe-Kaye is executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action

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Dump may hamper sale of former Malta gun club

— A former rod and gun club that Saratoga County is preparing to sell because of unpaid back taxes contains an informal landfill that requires cleanup, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The construction and demolition debris dump identified at the Round Lake Rod Gun Club could complicate the county’s efforts to sell the property.

The 33-acre property is among those scheduled to be sold at a Sept. 16 auction in Ballston Spa. County officials said the landfill situation will be disclosed to prospective buyers.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul Sausville, R-Malta, said the county attorney has advised them that the property remain on the auction block, “of course, with full disclosure.”

The DEC, in an Aug. 19 letter, said the county, as current owner of the property, should remove any recyclable materials like metal, plastic or glass found in the landfill. The landfill should then be covered with two feet of compacted soil to protect the environment from contamination, the department said.

Also, if ownership is transferred to someone else, the new owner should be notified of details about the landfill and DEC’s knowledge of it, wrote David Mt.Pleasant, acting regional materials management engineer.

“While this is not a regulatory requirement for this former CD landfill, I wanted to make you aware of this process,” Mt.Pleasant wrote.

The DEC investigation was requested by the town of Malta last spring and included two site visits and testing of stream samples. The DEC letter was directed to Saratoga County as the property owner.

Sausville said the county’s legal advisers said not to begin cleanup, to avoid the county assuming liability for a full remediation.

“Once we start managing the site, we become responsible for it,” Sausville said.

Under most circumstances, state law protects municipalities from liability if they are only holding a property’s title pending a tax auction and not actively managing it. The county took title to the property by foreclosure last December because of $30,000 in unpaid back taxes between 2011 and 2013.

The club, located at the end of Ruhle Road South on land overlooking the Ballston Creek ravine, has disbanded. The land adjoins the county’s popular Zim Smith recreation trail.

Town officials previously had some interest in acquiring the property to use as either a highway department storage site or a park. The town pulled the property from the county’s March tax auction to have sufficient time to investigate the environmental issues surrounding the dump, but it isn’t interested after receiving the new information.

“I think we should run, not walk, away from ownership of the property,” said Town Attorney Tom Peterson.

“If the county doesn’t sell it, we’ll see what happens at that point,” said town Councilman Peter Klotz.

The dumping at the club took place between the 1960s and the 1980s, according to DEC. Charred debris from a 1985 fire at the club was also buried in the landfill.

DEC’s investigation found some liquid runoff from the landfill is going into a small stream that runs next to it and discharges into Ballston Creek.

While DEC made two visits, the letter says the agency did not investigate high levels of lead in the soil because of skeet shooting. It noted, though, that a 1989 study done by Malta town engineers found lead contamination and lead in the tap water, which came from an on-site well.

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New York AG Goes After More Mortgage Relief Firms

As part of a joint federal-state sweep by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and 15 states targeting scam operations that prey on financially struggling homeowners and those facing foreclosure. Along with the FTC and CFPB, attorneys general from the following states participated in the sweep: Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Washington and Wisconsin. Also participating is the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation and Washington Department of Financial Institutions.

Yesterday the New York Attorney General secured a temporary restraining order barring the, Home Affordable Direct, Inc. (Farmingdale, NY), Home Affordable Solutions, Inc. (Farmingdale, NY), JR Holding Group Corp (Babylon, NY), Clear Solutions and Settlements, Inc. (Tampa, FL) and their principals, Javier Gutierrez and Shadi Soumekh, from collecting illegal advance fees from homeowners before they accept and execute a loan modification agreement and advertising and operating their business without providing the disclosures required by the federal Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule. The court also placed a freeze on company bank accounts.

The suit was filed against entities the AG felt were operating a fraudulent loan modification scam.

The companies and their principals are alleged to prey upon financially vulnerable consumers by claiming they can provide substantial relief from unaffordable mortgage payments through loan modifications and other forms of foreclosure prevention. The firms allegedly collect illegal advance fees and routinely fail to deliver on their promises. The lawsuit seeks to stop the illegal practices, provide restitution and damages to consumers, obtain disgorgement of profits, as well as penalties and costs.

“There has to be one set of rules for everyone, no matter how rich or powerful, and that is why our office has aggressively cracked down on those who prey upon vulnerable consumers at risk of losing their home,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I am proud to stand up for middle class New Yorkers against predatory scammers seeking to exploit those still reeling from the housing crisis.”

Attorney General Schneiderman’s lawsuit alleges that the companies engaged in fraudulent and illegal practices in the marketing and operation of their foreclosure rescue and loan modification business involving consumers from New York and outside the state. Through frequent radio advertisements and their website, they falsely represent that they are affiliated with the United States Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), that they have the ability to “pre-qualify” homeowners for a modification under HAMP and can determine whether a homeowner qualifies for HAMP during a single phone call. These advertisements lacked critical disclosures required by law that are designed to protect consumers, such as informing the consumer that Home Affordable Direct is not associated with the government, that their services are not approved by the government or the consumer’s lender, and that the consumer’s lender may not agree to modify the consumer’s mortgage loan even if the consumer uses Home Affordable Direct.

Company salespersons furthered the fraud by falsely representing to homeowners that they could get their mortgage servicing company to reduce the principal balance of their mortgage loan to the value of their home or that they would be able to obtain a specific reduction in their monthly mortgage payment. The companies failed to provide required disclosures that would have alerted consumers to be wary of these misleading claims, particularly the disclosure that the consumer can stop doing business with the companies at any time and that they do not have to pay anything to the company if they reject the offer of mortgage assistance obtained from the consumer’s lender or servicer. The companies collected hefty upfront fees from homeowners, ranging from $1,500 to over $11,000, in violation of the law. The companies usually refused to refund the illegal advance fees once consumers realized they were victims of a scam.

If you were a victim of Home Affordable Direct or any of its affiliated companies or if you believe you were a victim of another mortgage fraud, please file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. Complaint forms are available here. You may also call the New York Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Free help to New York homeowners is available through the Home Owner Protection Program (“HOPP”), which uses funds from the National Mortgage Settlement to fund legal services and housing counseling across New York to provide foreclosure prevention services. Consumers can call 855-HOME-456 for help. Attorney General Schneiderman’s program funds roughly 90 organizations across the state, and HOPP has served a combined total of nearly 30,000 families since its launch in October of 2012. – Source

In addition, consumers who are considering hiring a company to assist them with a mortgage modification may want to do some homework to avoid being scammed. These free guides can walk you through the process of what to look for so you don’t end up as a victim like so many others have. The first guide is How Not to Get Scammed by a Mortgage Loan Modification Company and contains commonsense and easy to follow steps to make sure you’ve utilized your free options and what to avoid. The second guide, How to Check Out a Business or Company to Avoid Getting Scammed or Ripped Off gives you some insight into what may be going on during the debt help sale.

Get Out of Debt Guy – Twitter, G+, Facebook

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Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann announces fourth round of Blight Elimination …

The following statement was issued Thursday by the office of Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann:

Indianapolis – Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann today announced that seven Indiana applicants have received a combined award of over $6 million to help prevent avoidable foreclosures by eliminating blighted and abandoned homes in those communities through the Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP).

Successful applicants receiving awards include:

  • · The Town of Cambridge City (Wayne County) $ 54,000
  • · The City of Columbus (Bartholomew County) $ 760,000
  • · The City of Kokomo (Howard County) $ 1,330,000
  • · The City of Marion (Grant County) $ 1,022,000
  • · The City of Richmond (Wayne County) $ 1,931,000
  • · The Town of Silver Lake (Kosciusko County) $ 61,000
  • · Dearborn County $ 218,000
  • · Warrick County $ 1,142,000

These local governments and their non-profit partners are the successful applicants in the fourth of six rounds of funding that will make a total of $75 million available for blight elimination to reduce foreclosures and stabilize property values.

The Blight Elimination Program provides an opportunity for local units of government in all 92 Indiana counties to compete for funding to prevent avoidable foreclosures through the elimination of blighted, vacant and abandoned homes.

“To date over $38 million has been allocated in the first four divisions of the Blight Elimination Program,” said Lt. Governor Ellspermann. “Whether communities have identified and received funding for just one house or hundreds of blighted properties, this program will provide an immediate and lasting impact on cities and towns throughout Indiana.”

“Neighborhoods across Indiana that have been struggling with the damaging effects caused by vacant and abandoned properties will soon see the benefit of these federal funds,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin. “We believe this program is a critical step in preventing foreclosures by reducing blight in our communities and hope these efforts help stabilize neighborhoods for years to come.”

The Blight Elimination Program funds are drawn from the $221.7 million in Hardest Hit Funds allocated to Indiana. In February 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved the use of $75 million of Indiana’s Hardest Hit Funds by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) for successful BEP applicants. The partnership between IHCDA and Treasury allows for funding to eliminate blighted properties and offer a variety of end uses for the newly cleared parcels, such as green space or redevelopment.

“It’s great to see that eight more municipalities across the state of Indiana have taken steps to fight blight in their communities,” said Mark Neyland, IHCDA Director of Asset Preservation, who manages Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund Program. “Funds from the Blight Elimination Program will make a positive impact in neighborhoods across the State by allowing communities to prevent avoidable foreclosures by removing blighted houses and transforming properties through positive and productive end uses that will benefit local residents and increase surrounding property values.”

The State of Indiana has been divided into six funding divisions. Any local unit of government wishing to apply for funds to eliminate blighted homes must do so to IHCDA by their division deadline. Applicants will apply for funds from the funding division in which their county is located. The application deadlines for divisions one, two, three and four have passed. Lt. Governor Ellspermann announced awards for successful applicants in division one on May 22, 2014, division two applicants on June 26, 2014 and division three applicants on July 24, 2014. Division five awards will be announced in late September.

IHCDA estimates that approximately 4,000 blighted and/or abandoned homes in Indiana will be eliminated through the Blight Elimination Program. Interested local government officials should visit to learn more and apply.


Blighted, vacant and abandoned homes are a serious issue for Hoosier homeowners, neighborhoods and communities as Indiana has the highest percentage of abandoned foreclosed homes in the country. RealtyTrac and 24/7 Wall Street have reported that roughly 30 percent of Indiana’s foreclosed homes are abandoned. Many of these properties quickly fall into a state of blight and attract undesirable or unlawful activity, thereby negatively impacting Indiana homeowners and neighborhoods by reducing property values and draining local government resources. Many Indiana communities simply lack the resources necessary to combat this problem alone.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest-Hit Markets (Hardest Hit Fund) to provide financial assistance to families in the states most impacted by the downturn of the housing market. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designed the overall program to give each participating state the flexibility to tailor its program to the unique factors contributing to its state’s foreclosure problems. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia administer Hardest Hit Fund assistance to qualified homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments.

IHCDA’s announcement that it was exploring the use of Hardest Hit Funds to eliminate blighted and abandoned properties has not detracted from the mission of helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. The Blight Elimination Program is simply one more instrument in the foreclosure prevention tool kit. As of July 31, 2014, nearly 3,800 homeowners in 91 of 92 counties have received approximately $45.8 million in Hardest Hit Fund mortgage payment assistance; and $95.4 million has been reserved to make mortgage payments for the approved homeowners currently enrolled in the program. For more information on Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund, visit

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