To support foreclosure remediation effort already underway in Rhode Island and educate new homeowners, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced a $375,000 grant to the Housing Network of Rhode Island. Funded through the National Mortgage Settlement between the five largest mortgage service providers and attorneys general nationwide, the grant will support three key areas: homeowner counseling, homebuyer education and outreach.
Under the terms of the National Mortgage Settlement, the State of Rhode Island, at the direction of Attorney General Kilmartin, received a direct payment of $8.9 million to help fund consumer protection and state foreclosure prevention services.
Counseling will prevent foreclosures by assisting homeowners in negotiating solutions with their loan servicers, applying for financial assistance and providing referrals to legal services where appropriate. Counseling will only be provided by HUD-certified counseling organizations.
Homebuyer education will provide new homebuyers with the knowledge to buy homes they can afford. New homebuyers will be taught how to evaluate loan products, determine how much they can afford to borrow and understand the mortgage process. The primary vehicle for this education is the Housing Network's Homeownership Connection that offers classes, individual counseling and workshops in English and Spanish.
Outreach and administration will be used to administer homebuyer counseling, to track and report homebuyer and foreclosure counseling and to continue the "Foreclosure Scam Alert" campaign.
"Homeowner education and financial literacy are the keys to successful long-term home ownership. Unfortunately, too many people fell underwater with their mortgages because they did not understand the complicated financial contracts to which they originally agreed," said Attorney General Kilmartin, who announced the grant at the Housing Network's 20th anniversary celebration. "Housing Network of Rhode Island has a proven record of educating future homeowners on what they can afford and the best financial products for their situation, as well as representing homeowners in negotiations with mortgage service providers to try to keep them in their homes. This grant will allow the organization to expand its offerings, helping more Rhode Island families stay in their homes."
Chris Hannifan, Executive Director of the Housing Network, added, "These funds will go a long way to support the efforts of the Housing Network members working in communities across Rhode island in helping individuals purchasing their first home make good choices when it comes to mortgage products. In addition these funds will assist certified HUD counselors working for Housing Network members assist Rhode Islanders prevent foreclosures, negotiate solutions with loan servicers and provide referrals to legal services."
In September, Attorney General Kilmartin announced a two-year, $1.57 million grant to Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) to fund the Foreclosure Prevention Project. With the grant, RILS expects to help stop, prevent, or delay the foreclosure of hundreds of homes each year. Rhode Island Legal Service's direct representation includes assisting homeowners facing foreclosure in bankruptcy court, providing housing and foreclosure prevention counseling, negotiating directly with lenders on loan modifications and principal reductions, and filing lawsuits against predatory lenders.
About the Housing Network of Rhode Island The Housing Network of Rhode Island is the state association of non-profit community development corporations. Our members have developed and build thousands of units of affordable housing throughout the state and initiated numerous revitalization efforts in neighborhoods across Rhode Island.
The Housing Network of Rhode Island exists to support the work of our members, and to promote public awareness and policies that address Rhode Island's housing and community economic needs.