Hope Center, Salvation Army, Habitat to get mortgage settlement money

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comSeptember 24, 2013 

Lexington's Hope Center, Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity will be some of the recipients of more than $750,000 in national mortgage settlement money, state and local officials announced Tuesday.

Attorney General Jack Conway announced Tuesday that the $750,000 — part of a $900,000 settlement with Lender Processing Services — would be earmarked for Lexington to help displaced families, prevent foreclosures and create affordable housing.

The $900,000 settlement is on top of nearly $64 million that Kentucky received as part of a national mortgage settlement against five of the nation's largest banks over questionable banking practices during the height of the recession. The settlement with Lender Processing Services is over allegations that it and its subsidiaries "robo-signed" mortgage loan servicing documents.

Conway said 65,000 Kentuckians lost their homes to foreclosure after the most recent housing crisis, and that cities including Lexington suffered more than rural areas.

"Our state's largest cities were hardest hit with abandoned properties, displaced residents and declining neighborhoods," Conway said.

According to information provided Tuesday:

■ $230,000 will be used by the Urban County Government as a local match for federal grant dollars to build as many as eight housing units for people displaced by the Newtown Pike extension or for low-income, first-time homeowners.

■ $100,000 will be provided to the Lexington Urban League or the Lexington Local Development Corp. for property acquisition to build or acquire housing for low-income renters.

■ $125,000 will be used in conjunction with a community development block grant for renovations to The Hope Center, a shelter that provides services to 2,000 homeless men every year.

■ $50,000 will go to the Salvation Army of Lexington, which has seen a 25 percent increase in homeless women and children seeking emergency shelter.

■ $125,000 will go to Lexington Habitat for Humanity to build at least two houses.

■ $129,125 will go to the city's Housing Rehabilitation Program and its Community-Wide Emergency Repair Program, which helps low-income homeowners make needed repairs to homes.

"Renovations of these properties and new construction will help change neighborhoods," Conway said at a news conference at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center, where the grants were announced Tuesday. The mortgage settlement money "was all about second chances," Conway said. "Second chances for properties, for communities and for people."

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said the money will be used to address homelessness and affordable housing. Gray said the agreement between the attorney general's office and the city must be approved by the Urban County Council before the money can be spent. The council is expected to vote on the agreement Thursday.

"These funds will make life better for dozens of local families and will help our city as we work to address homelessness concerns," Gray said.

Beth Musgrave: (859) 231-3205. Twitter: @HLCityhall.

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