October 06, 2010
Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

CROWNSVILLE, MD (October 5, 2010) – David Stevens, Assistant Secretary for Housing and Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Affairs announced today that Maryland will receive $40 million to assist homeowners in becoming current with back mortgage payments. The federal government’s announcement along with the rollout of new initiatives with the Maryland Mortgage Program and the distribution of Commitment to Excellence Awards were highlights at today’s Governor's Conference on Housing and Sustainable Communities. The event at the Baltimore Convention Center was sponsored by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Home Builders Association of Maryland, and the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition.

"Even as we move beyond the fallout of the subprime mortgage and predatory lending crisis, I know that there are still too many families in our state struggling to get by," said Governor Martin O’Malley. "This program strengthens an important safety net for hard-working people and protects the investment they made in the American dream."

The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program will offer a declining balance, deferred payment “bridge loan” for up to $50,000 to assist eligible homeowners with payments of arrears, including delinquent taxes and insurance along with up to 24 months of monthly payments on their mortgage principal, interest, insurance, taxes, and hazard insurance.

The department’s allocation will fund emergency loans for borrowers as well as provide support to cover administrative costs and housing counseling. HUD anticipates the distribution of the funds to be available in December.

In related news, DHCD Secretary Raymond A. Skinner also announced that an award of more than $1.9 million through the newly established Maryland Housing Counseling Fund will benefit a network of 35 housing counseling agencies and four legal service organizations throughout the state. The fund was set up under the Foreclosure Mediation Act that went into effect July 1 and will help agencies provide housing and foreclosure prevention counseling to financially distressed families. The new law also established the Maryland Housing Counseling Fund as a new source of funding to help with counseling for homebuyers and assistance for those facing foreclosure. More details on this award and a list of awardees can be found in the news releases section of the DHCD website, www.mdhousing.org.

Another important announcement at today’s event was a rate reduction to the Maryland Mortgage Program, the state’s flagship mortgage assistance program which features a variety of low-interest, fixed-rate mortgage loan options primarily targeted to first-time homebuyers. The department will reduce the zero point interest rate from 4.25% to 3.875%, effective for all loans reserved starting today. Qualified homebuyers will continue to be eligible for up to $5,000 through the program’s Downpayment and Settlement Expense Loan Program and partner match programs.

“This change is another reason why the Maryland Mortgage Program has been so successful in attracting first time homebuyers,” said Secretary Skinner. “Not only does it offer a safe, affordable loan and downpayment assistance product, but it does so at a very competitive rate. Also, when you take into account the many housing options available in today’s market, there isn’t a more opportune time to become a first time homebuyer.”

Today’s luncheon program also honored the 2010 Commitment to Excellence Awards winners. The awards recognized innovative projects, communities, and programs that illustrate DHCD’s mission to revitalize communities, encourage homeownership, and expand workforce housing opportunities for working families, seniors and individuals with disabilities. Winners and categories include:

WINNER: Ellicott Gardens, Howard County Housing
CATEGORY: Rental Housing Sustainability
CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Projects, individuals, or firms that have made a significant contribution to affordable rental housing through design, construction, management, or resident services. Quality design and construction, professional and effective management, and innovative and appropriate resident services ensure that housing financed by DHCD contributes positively to the lives of its residents and the communities in which the housing is located.

WINNER: Housing Unlimited, Inc.’s Project Independence
CATEGORY: Special Needs Housing
CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Programs or projects that address one of the following: permanent and transitional housing and service provision for the homeless, victims of domestic violence, persons with HIV/AIDS, persons with substance abuse disorders, or individuals with disabilities.

WINNER: Youth Dreams Youth Center
CATEGORY: Community Building
CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Community Building: Programs, projects and communities that work to comprehensively serve community needs by addressing one of the following: downtown development and revitalization; capital assistance for nonprofit organizations; overall infrastructure needs that create, promote, and support the overall health, safety, and economic viability of the community.

WINNER: Caroline County Habitat for Humanity for Lake Creek-Federalsburg- Brooklyn Neighborhood
CATEGORY: Homeownership
CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Programs or projects that encourage homeownership, such as empowering new buyers, home improvement and rehabilitations, homeownership counseling, or encouraging new production of workforce housing.

WINNERS: Rosta Inc. and Fire Station 1 Restaurant & Brewing Co.
CATEGORY: Small Business Development
CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Businesses that have contributed to downtown development through: redevelopment of vacant or underutilized sites, micro enterprise, creative financing, or leverage of state dollars with private sector financing.

WINNER: Hamel Builders
CATEGORY: Partner of the Year
CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Individuals or organizations that have served as catalysts to affect community and economic development or an economic rebound in the surrounding community or region through: work to respond to community needs; use of innovative and successful financing techniques; leverage of state dollars with private sector financing; partnerships forged with for- profit, non-profit and government agencies or programs; and demonstrated commitment to low-income neighborhoods through volunteer efforts.

WINNER: Garrett County Maryland Community Action Committee, Inc. (Garrett CAC)
CATEGORY: Weatherization Organization of the Year
CATEGORY DESCRIPTION: Weatherization partners that have quickly and efficiently implemented their Weatherization Assistance Program, effectively used available American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, developed the appropriate support system to meet demand and reporting requirements and established and exceeded production goals.

In addition, the Maryland Affordable Housing Coalition announced two awards for Legislative Advocate of the Year to Delegate Adrienne A. Jones and State Senator James E. DeGrange, Sr., in recognition of their exceptional leadership and support of affordable housing in Maryland.

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The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development works with partners to finance housing opportunities and revitalize great places for Maryland citizens to live, work and prosper. To learn more about DHCD’s programs, visit www.mdhousing.org.

News updates also are available by following DHCD on Twitter (www.twitter.com/MDHousing) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/marylandhousing).

For more information:

Rosa Cruz
Deputy Director, Office of Communications and Marketing