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Md. property owners get $60M in aid for mortgages

Wednesday - 5/30/2012, 2:42pm  ET

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Maryland homeowners hurt by foreclosure abuses, fraud, "robo-signing" and other improper mortgage servicing practices will soon get help from the state.

Attorney General Douglas Gansler tells WTOP he and Gov. Martin O'Malley will be allocating nearly $60 million in funding from the recent $26 billion National Mortgage Servicing Settlement with five major mortgage services.

Much of the money will go toward non-profit agencies that can directly help distressed homeowners.

More than $8 million will be dedicated to housing counselors throughout the state, "to help people navigate principal reductions, loan modifications and the origination and servicing of loans I to the future," says Gansler.

"We think that is essential to stemming the housing and foreclosure crisis," said Gansler.

Gansler says studies show would-be homeowners benefit greatly when assisted by a mortgage counselor.

"They are 70 percent likely to be in that home six months later. If they don't have a housing counselor, they're 20 percent likely to be in that home six months later," he says.

Prince George's County and Baltimore City housing programs will also get $10 million each for housing programs, as determined by local leaders.

Gansler says Maryland homeowners are distressed as a result of unscrupulous business practices.

"Our priorities are to help those families struggling to stay in their homes and stabilize neighborhoods so those homes can begin to increase in value once again, said Gansler.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)