Make us your home page

Audit finds program to help Florida homeowners is ineffective

A billion-dollar program designed to keep 40,000 Florida homeowners out of foreclosure has helped only 3,400, according to a federal audit released Thursday.

The audit quotes an unnamed Florida official as blaming the abysmal results on lack of interest from banks and other lenders. "There is no stick with the carrot to force servicers to participate," the official said in the audit.

Another Florida official said it would have been helpful if the U.S. Treasury had been more aggressive in getting large lenders to participate.

The state's Hardest Hit Fund was supposed to help financially distressed homeowners who were not more than 180 days delinquent in their mortgage payments.

Assistance comes in two ways:

One option provides six months of mortgage assistance, up to $12,000, to unemployed or underemployed homeowners. A revision from the pilot program requires homeowners to pay 25 percent of their monthly income or $70 toward the house payment.

A second option provides up to $6,000 to bring a delinquent mortgage current if the homeowner has returned to work or is recovering from underemployment.

Of the nearly 36,500 applications received in Florida through January, more than 3,800 came from Hillsborough, Hernando, Pinellas and Polk counties.

In 2010, the U.S. Treasury selected Florida along with Nevada, California, Michigan and Arizona as Hardest Hit states because of high unemployment and diving housing prices.

The federal government ultimately distributed $7.6 billion to 18 states and the District of Columbia. As of December, housing officials have spent only $217.4 million — 3 percent of the $7.6 billion — to help 30,640 homeowners, the audit states.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program conducted the audit.

It found that the "Treasury failed to recognize the lack of bargaining power that states had for recruiting'' banks and other lenders.

Mark Puente can be reached at or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at

Audit finds program to help Florida homeowners is ineffective 04/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy


    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  2. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  3. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  4. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  5. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser