Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Foreclosure Victims Face Aid Deadline

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Foreclosure Victims Face Aid Deadline

Article excerpt

Millions of dollars from a settlement with lenders. now available t people caught up in the robo-signing debacle

FLORIDA HAS MILLIONS OF DOLlars to dole out to foreclosed homeowners who became ensnared in the infamous "robo-signing" scandal.

But there's a slight problem: only about half the homeowners who are eligible have filed claims for the money, and the deadline is Friday.

The original deadline was Jan. 18, but the Florida Attorney General's office moved it to allow more people a chance to participate.

The money is part of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement among five of the nation's largest lenders and 49 states over foreclosure abuses.

Florida's share of the settlement will total $8.4 billion. Most of that amount, $7.6 billion, will come in loan modifications, including principal relief or reductions, which some say could help re-energize the state's real estate market at a time when Florida leads the nation in foreclosures.

Another $170 million is available in payments to Florida borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011. Attorney General Pam Bondi says more than 167,000 borrowers might be eligible for those payments.

But so far, a little less than six in 10 of them have submitted claims. Bondi has held press conferences around the state -- most recently in Tampa -- to encourage those eligible to apply.

Those homeowners should have received letters from the Attorney General's Office in recent months. The office also started a telephone campaign several weeks ago, said John Lucas, a spokesman in Bondi's office.

"We pushed the deadline because we are trying to get more numbers," Lucas said. "The firm that is processing the claims said it could continue to take them while processing the ones already filed."

Lucas had no ideas on why the foreclosed homeowners may not be filing claims.

Most of them will receive several thousand dollars, a welcome amount but, to some, hardly enough to compensate for the loss of their homes.

The five banks -- Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, Chase and Wells Fargo -- were key players in the robo-signing of foreclosure documents. …

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