Anti-foreclosure program struggles

Anti-foreclosure program struggles

A state program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure with more than $220M in federal funds has struggled through mistakes and a slow start.

The Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative awarded more than $1.7 million to 242 homeowners it later determined did not qualify for the program. The state made no effort to recover the money and has written it off, a review by The Oregonian shows.

Elsewhere, the program has paid $750,000 to a private company headed by former Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten to craft a refinancing program for homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. While the program shows promise, after more than a year of work, Sten's company has refinanced 11 mortgages.

"It's been a pretty big learning curve," said Margaret Van Vliet, director of Oregon Housing and Community Services, which oversees the anti-foreclosure program. "We didn't have the staff or the systems in place. It was a pretty ugly set of circumstances that overwhelmed the agency."


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