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Fla. Housing Finance Pushes Back Against Critics Of The 'Hardest Hit' Program

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is pushing back against critics who say it’s not doing a good job of running the state’s billion-dollar support program for homeowners facing foreclosure.

Three years ago and at the height of the foreclosure crisis Florida received a billion dollars from the federal government to help struggling homeowners. The Hardest Hit program still has more than $840 million left unspent. It’s run by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. Monday, Senate Democrats Soto called on state lawmakers to give $4 million a year for the next three years to help the organization get more people into the Hardest Hit program.

“We need to utilize and get that $840 million in the Hardest Hit fund out into the streets. It’s been three years that that money has been held hostage and it makes no sense," Said Democratic Senator Darren Soto.

“ I’m not really sure what the impetus behind that is, and we understand the concern that the Senate has for this," said Florida Housing Spokeswoman Cecka Rose Green.

Green says the Hardest Hit program is working as designed, although it has been slow in moving. The program comes with money to keep it running, and Green says she doesn’t know why Senate Democrats felt the need to put another four-million dollars into it:

“We’ve been moving right along and using the funds we have to administer the program in good fashion.”  

Recently, several reports have compared the rate of homeowners getting assistance through Hardest Hit to similar programs in other states that have already spent down almost half of their funding. Green says she’s confident Florida will continue using the federal dollars to support struggling homeowners with things like  mortgage payment assistance before the program expires...in 2017.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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