McKeel offers spending plan for mortgage settlement money

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The Florida House Appropriations Committee will being deciding how to use about $200 million in mortgage fraud money the state received last year as part of a $32 billion national settlement with five of the nation’s largest loan servicers.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Seth McKeel has proposed a committee bill that would offer down payment assistance for teachers and other professionals with low incomes in fields where recruitment and retention have presented significant challenges. It would also pay for residential rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in blighted areas, encourage partnerships with the private sector in providing housing to elderly and low income residents and provide housing grants for low income university students. The measure also would extend legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure and increase funding for courts and clerks offices to address foreclosures. Earlier this year, the Joint legislative Budget Commission approved a $60 million package of relief that would include $35 million in down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers, who under federal guidelines have not owned a home in the previous three years. The maximum benefits of $7,500 can be used to help with closing costs on 30-year, fixed rate mortgages.

The Senate proposal for the money is expected to be released as a committee bill by Sen. Andy Gardiner, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.