Governor, Presiding Officers sign foreclosure mediation legislation
Governor meets with faith leaders, recognizing their role in foreclosure prevention outreach
New legislation creates Sustainable Communities Tax Credit, expanding job-creation tool in Maryland
ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 20, 2010) – Governor Martin O’Malley joined Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., and House Speaker Michael E. Busch in signing a tough new law bringing mortgage giants to the table when beginning a foreclosure proceeding in Maryland. This morning, Governor O’Malley met over breakfast with more than 200 faith leaders, acknowledging their efforts in foreclosure prevention outreach and their role moving forward under this new legislation.
“With my signature today, we are empowering our fellow Marylanders, putting them on a more equal footing with mortgage companies that too often can’t be bothered to pick up the phone before beginning a foreclosure proceeding against a Maryland family,” Governor O’Malley said. “It gives borrowers the information they need at an early stage, and gives every Maryland family the right to have access to their lenders when they feel they are unfairly denied a loan modification or other mitigation option. This legislation will help keep more Marylanders in the homes they worked hard to purchase.”
Governor O’Malley introduced legislation this session giving every Maryland family facing foreclosure the legal right to mediation with the lender seeking the foreclosure. Building on the O’Malley-Brown Administration’s bold reforms of the foreclosure process and timelines in 2007, the Administration remains committed to ensuring that those homeowners who are eligible for loan modifications are able to obtain them, and that others can pursue alternatives to avoid foreclosure or lessen its harmful impact.
“Four years ago, Governor O’Malley and I set a goal to strengthen and grow the ranks of our middle class. That goal is more important today than ever before. We are committed to moving our state forward and protecting the American Dream for the hard working families who are struggling with a national recession and fighting mortgage companies who are kicking them out of their homes without any notice,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Together, we have built strong communities and we have chosen to invest in our potential. During these difficult economic times, we must work harder to protect those investments and preserve the strength of our communities.”
Borrowers who may be eligible for loan modifications to save their homes but find themselves facing foreclosure anyway should be afforded the opportunity to talk directly with their lenders to find a resolution before their homes are sold. This bill gives Maryland families the right to a foreclosure mediation process upon filing of foreclosure proceedings. It requires lenders/servicers to use the 45 day period prior to the filing of the foreclosure action more productively to achieve loan modifications where possible by requiring the Notice to include a loss mitigation application and other information helpful to the homeowner to prevent the loss of their home.
“The Legislature worked with Governor O’Malley to pass landmark legislation to protect consumers and crack down on fraud this term. This year, we improved consumer protection in the law by giving homeowners the right to mediation,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. “Working together, we provided a critical lifeline to thousands of Maryland homeowners who are working hard to keep their heads above water as our nation emerges from the deepest recession in generations.”
“Stimulating private sector investment in the State’s economy is the cornerstone to Maryland being the first state out of this global recession,” said Speaker Michael E. Busch. “Tax credits and incentives, like the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit, are the kind of government programs that can give businesses across the State the tools to hire new employees, look for new opportunities and reinvest in Maryland.”
While mediation is the latest tool to aid families facing foreclosure, homeowners are still encouraged to seek help from other State resources. Because the opportunity to participate in mediation occurs at a late stage in the foreclosure process and does not guarantee the avoidance of foreclosure, homeowners should not wait until they can request mediation before starting efforts to save their home. Homeowners should contact their lender and a housing counselor at the earliest sign of financial difficulty. A list of HOPE housing counseling agencies can be obtained by calling the MDHOPE hotline at 877-462-7555 or by visiting www.mdhope.org.
To date, the HOPE Network has counseled more than 39,000 people, with approximately 12,000 of those as positive outcomes. In addition, 1,025 attorneys have been recruited to serve the Foreclosure Prevention Project.
In addition to foreclosure mediation legislation, Governor O’Malley signed legislation creating the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit, a renewal of the credit previously known as the Heritage Tax Credit through 2014 and expanding its qualifying properties beyond strictly historical structures to include projects constructed with sustainable building practices. In its 12 years of existence, the Heritage Tax Credit has fueled more than 15,000 Maryland jobs, while generating an estimated $1.74 billion into our economy. Estimates are that for every dollar of tax credit that is used, $8.53 in economic output is generated. Ten million dollars is available for this tax credit for FY2011, with ten percent of those funds dedicated to historical structures.
Governor O’Malley also signed into law a number of bills promoting clean energy in Maryland, including a tax credit for Marylanders purchasing new electric vehicles, like the Chevy Volt. Electric vehicles will provide far-reaching economic, environmental, national security and health benefits to our citizens. Governor O’Malley also signed into law legislation allowing plug-in vehicles the authority to travel in high-occupancy vehicle lanes where available. These incentives are intended not only to generate the purchase of cleaner, more efficient vehicles in Maryland, but also to enhance the green jobs infrastructure in Maryland, supporting the Governor’s goal of creating 100,000 new green jobs.