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Florida Leaves 250 Million on the Table that Could Have Helped Homeowners

April 21st, 2016 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida homeowners lost th opportunity to apply for a share of 250 million dollars the federal government set aside to help those with underwater mortgages. That’s because The Florida Housing Finance Corporation didn’t ask for the money and it went to other states. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, Florida has the lowest approval rate of any state participating in the program to help underwater homeowners.

The Hardest Hit Fund was established to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, but the state Housing Finance Corporation missed a March deadline to apply for 250 million dollars to help additional homeowners. The money has instead gone to other states.

We went to the agency to ask why and were asked to turn our camera off. We did.

Once upstairs we were told we could only take pictures of the lobby.  We asked to see the Executive Director.

“Is Mr. Auger here” we asked.

He wasn’t in. But we did reach Communications director Cecka green  by phone. She said the agency received 78 million in February that it wasn’t expecting.

“we feel like we’ve been doing what was expected of us from the federal government.”

Green says the application for the 250 million was received in Mid February, but it wasn’t discussed until a March 20th board meeting. 7 days after the deadline to apply had passed.

Q:”What was the reason for not filing the application?”

A:”Quite frankly, we have an additional allocation now that still available. We haves programs that are operational and moving, and that’s where we wanted to keep our focus.”

There are still more than a million florida homeowners who ower more to a lender than the house is worth. And if the state had taken that additional money, that would have helped at least five thousand of them.

An October report shows Florida has the lowest acceptance rate of homeowners of those states participating.

The agency says the reason it has the lowest acceptance rate is because it does not pre-screen applicants, and accepts applications from everyone. Senator Bill Nelson calls the refusal to accept the additional money “tragic”

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