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Introducing a Mon.-Fri. newscast tracking the 2020 Elections, starting with Iowa, First in the Nation. Tea Party Republican Joe Walsh enters GOP race; Sen. Bernie Sanders explains what he means by "Democratic Socialism;" and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee drops his bid for the Democratic nomination.

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Foreclosure Fraud Settlement: $3.5 Million for VA

PHOTO: Attendees at VOICE's Affordable Housing Action event in Arlington. VOICE hopes the foreclosure settlement money will be used to help people rebuild credit and reestablish themselves in affordable homes. Courtesy of VOICE.
PHOTO: Attendees at VOICE's Affordable Housing Action event in Arlington. VOICE hopes the foreclosure settlement money will be used to help people rebuild credit and reestablish themselves in affordable homes. Courtesy of VOICE.
February 11, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia will receive $3.5 million as part of a lawsuit settlement with financial institutions in the now infamous "robo-signing" of foreclosure documents. Some Virginians hope the state will use the money to help areas affected by foreclosures.

The Rev. Clyde Ellis, clergy leader with VOICE (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement), was part of a team of more than 30 "citizen investigators" who uncovered many potentially fraudulent foreclosure documents in Prince William County, he said.

"We actually investigated 2,000 records out of the 16,000-plus foreclosures that had happened here in Prince William County," he explained, "and to our surprise, 45 percent of those documents gave evidence of robo-signing."

Ellis, pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Woodbridge, and other VOICE members hope the settlement money will be put into the Virginia Housing Trust to help restore communities affected by the foreclosure crisis. However, some legislators have said they want the money put into the state's general fund.

Ellis said he and other VOICE members have been working with state agencies, private organizations and legislators on a plan to use the funds to encourage private housing investment, as well as help those directly affected by foreclosures.

"We could leverage the dollars to develop affordable housing," he said, "to help people who obviously couldn't afford to live in our community."

In addition to public-private investment in affordable housing programs, VOICE is working on a credit restoration program to help people with foreclosure-damaged credit obtain a new mortgage or rent a home or apartment.


Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA