Senator works to help combat foreclosures

Federal assistance and money are available for Ohioans whose homes were foreclosed in 2009 and 2010, a U.S. legislator says in his personal push to notify 140,000 people in his home state who may qualify for a free review.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown revisited the issue after only 6,000 of the 140,000 eligible Ohioans initiated the free Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) process and because Congress extended the review deadline for a final time to Sept. 30.

“Too many Ohioans lost their homes to foreclosure — often because servicers had poorly maintained, lost, or forged documentation,” Brown said during a media teleconference on Wednesday. “That’s why the Independent Foreclosure Review process is so important. It will help borrowers who were foreclosed on because of inaccuracies and oversights by providing lump sum payments, suspending foreclosure, enabling loan modification, or correcting a credit report.

“If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity then banks will avoid making payments for their wrongdoing,” the U.S. lawmaker said, noting homeowners could receive $125,000 for wrongful actions. “Our economy won’t ever fully recover until we stabilize the housing market — that means restoring trust for both homeowners and investors.”

Statistics show 262 property owners were foreclosed on in 2009 in Auglaize County and 248 foreclosures took place in 2010.

He said the only reason the IFR exists is because bankers were manipulating the loan process, and the creation of the IFR was part of settlement to avoid further legal action against mortgage lenders. While he acknowledged there is a personal responsibility for loan issues, but he also said there is an institutional responsibility to being fair mortgage lenders.

“IFR can help families who were foreclosed even though they were protected by bankruptcy and this IFR process can help by providing lump sum payments, suspending foreclosure, enabling loan modification and correcting credit reports,” Brown said. “It is not a perfect process so I am working to fix some serious flaws.”

He also took additional steps.

Brown sent a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency requesting homeowners have access to an appeals process to ensure Ohioans have the assistance they deserve.

“As mentioned by the OCC, the purpose for the IFR is to give homeowners an opportunity to seek redress from servicers for any errors, misrepresentations, or any other discrepancies in the foreclosure process that led to an unwarranted foreclosure filing,” Brown wrote in the letter released to the media. This lack of an opportunity to appeal the decisions made by the independent consultants fails to provide aggrieved homeowners with recourse and review in the event that their claims are mistakenly rejected.”