Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s Newly Approved Program following Soto’s Lead
Tallahassee — As legislation sponsored by Senator Darren Soto – intended to deliver long overdue help to Florida homeowners struggling to fend off foreclosure – continues to languish in the Republican-controlled legislature, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation is moving ahead with a key component of the Orlando Democrat’s stonewalled bill.
Last week, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation board unanimously approved a pilot program that would include loans purchased in the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program (DASP). The program will begin in the Tampa Bay area and then expand to the Orlando and Ft.Lauderdale/Miami area. If the program proves successful, the approved $50 million budget will be expanded and will also include other loans outside of the DASP sales.
While the new program launches on a limited basis, Senator Soto’s bill – should Republicans ever allow it to proceed through the legislative process – would deliver similar relief to distressed homeowners statewide.
SB 1236 would create the Mortgage Principal Reduction Act requiring that the Florida Housing Finance Corporation apply to the United States Department of the Treasury to request funds not to exceed $100 million from the federal Hardest-Hit Fund program.
The Hardest Hit Program was established soon after the first election of President Barack Obama and contained roughly $1 billion in relief for struggling homeowners throughout Florida. The fund has remained largely ignored by state Republicans, however, just as they’ve repeatedly ignored legislation sponsored by Democrats attempting to reverse Florida’s appalling rank in the nation as number one for home foreclosures.
In the case of Senator Soto’s bill, his legislation would tap those federal funds to create a new state program to reduce the principal on mortgages for Floridians whose homestead property in this state is in foreclosure. Soto’s bill would require the corporation to use the allocated funds to purchase delinquent mortgages on such property from lenders at a discount to reduce the mortgage principal amount due on the mortgage.
“I applaud the Florida Housing Finance Corporation for making a wise decision to assist Florida families in saving their homes,” said Senator Soto. “The Republican leadership needs to follow its lead and pass my bill to broaden the relief to homeowners facing foreclosure throughout Florida.”
So far this legislative session, the only foreclosure-related bill which appears green-lighted for passage is a Republican-sponsored measure accelerating bank home seizures by lessening court oversight.