Lawmakers to disburse part of foreclosure settlement funds next week
A legislative budget panel will meet next week to parcel out $60 million to aid troubled homeowners as part of an agreement between Attorney General Pam Bondi and legislative leaders over how to spend some of a foreclosure fraud settlement with five large banks.
The agenda for next week’s meeting of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission was released Thursday, providing the first breakdown of how the $60 million will be spent. Most of the money, $45 million, will go to the Florida Housing Finance Corp. to help with down payment assistance and housing counseling for eligible homeowners. Bondi’s office will receive $5 million in legal fees, another $5 million will go to the State Courts System to help pay for foreclosure cases, and the remaining $5 million will go to legal aid services throughout the state that counsel foreclosure defendants.
Bondi reached an agreement with House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz in November over how to spend the $300 million that went to the state as part of a multiple-state settlement with Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial for rushing foreclosures through the courts with faulty paperwork.
Florida received $8.4 billion of the $25 billion settlement. Under the settlement, $7.6 billion will go directly to affected homeowners for loan modifications and principal reductions, $170 million in cash payments will go to homeowners unfairly foreclosed upon between 2008 and 2011, $309 million will be used to help underwater homeowners refinance their loans and $334 million went to the state in a direct payment — $34 million of which went to state coffers as a civil penalty.
After a dispute with lawmakers, who maintained the state constitution gives the legislative branch sole authority to appropriate funds, Bondi reached an agreement on how to spend the remaining $300 million. Under the agreement, $40 million would go into general revenue as an “additional civil penalty,” $200 million would be appropriated by the Legislature in the upcoming legislative session for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The remaining $60 million would be allocated by the Joint Legislative Budget Commission and can be used immediately.
Copy of the breakdown below…