Wake up Arizona: Your elected officials are working against you again!
This time Governor Jan Brewer is now considering using the $50 million award that Arizona received through the robo signing mortgage settlement from the country’s top five mortgage loan servicers, to balance the state’s budget.
The monies were part of the settlement reached by 49 states and the country’s five largest mortgage loan servicers who engaged in fraudulent foreclosure practices. The judgment stipulates the money should be used to avoid further foreclosures in the state. But Governor Brewer thinks otherwise and plans to use the money for new services.
This defies common sense, particularly when Phoenix had the nation’s ninth highest metro foreclosure rate for the first quarter of 2012. Forty-eight percent of the state’s homeowners are still underwater on their mortgage! While prices in Maricopa County have shown an increase over the last few months, home values are still a whopping 47 percent lower since the peak of the boom.
We’re far from being out of the woods in this situation. Until we stop the foreclosure cycle, these losses will continue to drain the life out of our state economy, diminish the quality of life in local neighborhoods and contribute to the crime rate.
In the Latino community, where foreclosure losses are the highest, the lack of support for foreclosure prevention services is another kick in the teeth. In the post-SB1070 climate of hate and prejudice championed by Governor Brewer and other elected officials, this move simply alienates Latinos more.
Using the money as it was intended – to prevent more foreclosures – benefits all Arizonans. By conservative estimates, these funds could provide counseling to 75,000 homeowners and legal aid for up to 10,000 people.
This aid is vital to the continued recovery of local neighborhoods and Arizona’s economy. Most distressed homeowners don’t have the experience or the means to get help, particularly low- to moderate-income homeowners. Turning our backs on this issue will only keep homeowners in a vulnerable position. Helping homeowners deal with default, get back on their feet and reestablish credit is fundamental to turning things around in Arizona.
But the more obvious question here is: If our standing as the number two foreclosure state in the nation isn’t reason enough for Governor Brewer to help constituent homeowners, then what is?