COLUMBIA - President Obama announced Tuesday a plan to give "significant relief" to service members who were foreclosed upon illegally.
"It is unconscionable that members of our armed forces and their families are among those who were most susceptible to losing their homes due to the unscrupulous acts of banks and mortgage lenders," said President Obama during a White House news conference.
The plan requires no Congressional action and will reduce refinancing fees for homeowners with government-backed loans. The main part of the plan aims to aid service members who were the victims of foreclosure fraud, predatory mortgage practices, and other improper foreclosures.
This comes as a result of the Feb. 9 announcement that the five largest mortgage lenders in the nation agreed to pay $26 billion to settle a government lawsuit claiming mortgage loan and foreclosure abuses. At least $20 billion is to be returned to aggrieved homeowners, according to White House and Housing and Urban Development Department news releases.
Under the agreement, lenders will:
--Review the records of every service member whose home was foreclosed upon since 2006 and provide any who were wrongly foreclosed upon with compensation equal to a minimum of lost equity, plus interest and at least $116,785;
--Refund to service members money lost because they were wrongfully denied the opportunity to reduce their mortgage payments through lower interest rates;
--Provide relief for service members who are forced to sell their homes for less than the amount they owe on their mortgage due to a permanent change in station;
--Pay $10 million into the Veterans Affairs fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms for veterans; and
--Extend certain foreclosure protections afforded under the Service Member Civil Relief Act to those serving in harm's way.
"In putting ten million dollars into the Veteran Affairs fund ongoing for either lower fees or lower interest rates is probably the biggest impact going forward." said Terry Collier, Boone County Mortgage Officer.
Service members and veterans who believe they can take part in the settlement are encouraged to call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743.