Ombudsmen to work with attorneys, Florida homeowners to alleviate foreclosure crisis
TALLAHASSEE, FL – February 25, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — With the goal of helping more Florida families stay in their homes, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink today urged each of Florida’s largest mortgage lenders to appoint an ombudsman to facilitate interaction between lenders, attorneys, and Florida homeowners. Details of the proposal were outlined in a letter sent today to 11 major mortgage lending institutions.
The proposal stems from the Florida Attorneys Saving Homes (FASH) program, which was created last year by the Florida Bar after CFO Sink urged bar lawyers to dedicate more pro bono casework to helping homeowners avoid the mortgage foreclosure crisis. More than 1,000 attorneys have volunteered to respond to more than 10,000 requests from at-risk homeowners; however, the success of the program has been hindered from a lack of available lender representatives.
“Florida has the third-highest number of properties with foreclosure filings in the country, and it’s commendable that these attorneys have volunteered to represent the homeowners who find themselves in this unfortunate situation,” said CFO Sink, who oversees the Department of Financial Services. “These attorneys can better negotiate modifications and more Floridians will be able to stay in their homes if attorneys have dedicated ombudsmen to contact.”
“More than 1,000 members of the Florida Bar responded to CFO Sink’s request to assist homeowners,” said Jennifer Newton, Director of Florida Attorneys Saving Homes. “We are delighted to have CFO Sink further support our efforts by urging lenders to appoint an ombudsman with the authority to renegotiate mortgage loans.”
Even though foreclosure activity in Florida was down 20 percent for the month of January (compared to December), foreclosures in the state are still 18 percent higher than they were last year and third in the nation. Approximately one in every 186 households in Florida is in foreclosure.
As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.
CONTACT: Kevin Cate or Jayme O’Rourke (850) 413-2842