Foreclosure fund ideas put forth

Those in charge of overseeing Nevada’s share of $1.5 billion in federal funds to help prevent foreclosures had asked for suggestions on how the money should best be spent.

They got an earful Friday.

Among the ideas for the $102.8 million, floated during a lengthy public hearing that drew about 75 people to the Sawyer Building, were:

■ Fund programs that aim to reduce the unpaid principal for homeowners hopelessly upside down in their mortgages.

■ Funnel money to nonprofit groups that facilitate loan modification by mediating between banks and homeowners.

■ Present banks with better incentives for negotiating with delinquent homeowners.

■ Provide “wrap-around” services for families going through foreclosures.

“There needs to be something in place to help those families transition from being homeowners to rental housing to help ensure that they do not become homeless,” Bridget Claridy, a program resource analyst with the Women’s Development Center, told officials with the Nevada Housing Division.

The division learned last month that it would be overseeing the distribution of the money in Nevada. President Barack Obama announced the allocation during a February visit.

The five states that have been hit hardest by falling housing prices — Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida and Michigan — will share the $1.5 billion pot. The funds come from those set aside for housing under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

The U.S. Treasury on Friday released more guidelines about how the money can be spent to stem foreclosures, but has continued to encourage states to come up with “creative approaches that consider local conditions.”

The Nevada Housing Division has until April 16 to submit program proposals to the Treasury.

The money should begin flowing into Southern Nevada by early June, said Lon DeWeese, chief financial officer for the division.

“Our main concern is making sure that … we get the money out as soon as possible to begin providing aid to those families in need,” DeWeese said.


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