Portland, OR. — Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced that Oregon would receive over $36 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury to assist homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure. Today’s announcement from the Treasury Department includes an opportunity for the state of Oregon to apply for an additional $110 million to address housing needs in the state. Senator Merkley has been instrumental in advocating for additional funding to address the foreclosure crisis that has rocked Oregon since the Great Recession and called on the Treasury Department to release this funding.
“Homeownership is the greatest wealth-building tool the middle class has ever known, but too many Oregonians are still struggling with underwater mortgages and high interest rates and are on the brink of foreclosure,” said Merkley. “This funding will help many Oregonians stay in their homes and get back on track to the American Dream.”
The announcement today from the Treasury Department comes from their authority to obligate up to $2 billion in additional Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds to the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) program. The additional investment in HHF will enable participating states to continue assisting struggling homeowners and stabilizing neighborhoods in many of the nation’s hardest hit communities. The fifth round of HHF funding will be allocated among participating states in two phases of $1 billion each.
The first phase will allocate $1 billion using a formula based on state population and the state’s utilization of their HHF allocation to date. The second phase will utilize an application process open to all participating states. This phase will allow Treasury to focus additional resources on states that have significant ongoing foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization needs, a proven track record in utilizing funds, and successful program models to address those needs.
Senator Merkley worked closely with the Oregon Housing and Community Services to administer the initial HHF and helped design the Loan Refinancing Assistance Pilot Program (LRAPP) that has used HHF in Oregon since 2012. This program has helped hundreds of Oregonians avoid foreclosure through an innovative strategy in which their home is purchased through a short sale and resold to them at its current value. This additional funding announced today will be used to ensure the LRAPP program continues, as well as targeting new programs aimed at helping Oregonians who are struggling to stay in their homes.
The HHF was created in 2010 to provide $7.6 billion in targeted aid to 18 states and the District of Columbia deemed hardest hit by the economic and housing market downturn. The program was designed to leverage the expertise of state and local partners by funding locally-tailored foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization solutions.