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August 15, 2008

Governor Blagojevich signs legislation to expand the Finally Home program which helps struggling homeowners refinance
Bill will allow State Treasurer to complement Governor’s existing Homeowner Assistance Initiative

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to allow the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office to assist more homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments and who are at risk of foreclosure. The expanded Finally Home program (formerly Our Own Home) will assist homeowners in the refinancing process by providing a 10% guarantee of funds to lenders who would otherwise not offer refinancing to the borrower.
“Families in Illinois are struggling to make it through these tough economic times and we should do everything that we can to keep people in their homes.  I am pleased to sign this legislation and provide additional assistance to those working to make ends meet,” said Governor Blagojevich.
More than 90,000 Illinois residents were forced into foreclosure last year. House Bill 4611, sponsored by State Representative Constance A. Howard (D-Chicago) and State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), will allow the Finally Home program to offer a 10% guarantee to participating lenders when refinancing at-risk loans if owners fear they will miss a payment due to an unaffordable ARM reset or other circumstances beyond their control. Under previous law, the program could only provide a 10% guarantee to lenders for refinancing after a buyer missed a mortgage payment.
With the Governor’s signature of this bill, Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias’ Finally Home program can assist homeowners in three ways:
  • To refinance a mortgage when an ARM resets to an unaffordable level or if an owner is at-risk of missing a payment;
  • To refinance a mortgage if an owner has missed a payment due to circumstances beyond their control but can afford to resume payments;
  • To purchase a home despite risk factors such as high debt, low credit score or lack of down payment.
“These challenging economic times have had a devastating affect on our housing market, and it’s crucial that government find innovative ways to help Illinois residents stay in their homes,” Treasurer Giannoulias said. “Foreclosures are expected to peak this fall due to mortgages resetting at higher, unaffordable rates. The Finally Home program will help the state keep pace with the rising number of troubled homeowners and stem the tide of foreclosures.”
The bill will also enable the program to assist more individuals who are trying to purchase or refinance a home by removing the 50% cap on the conforming loan size limit set by the Federal National Mortgage Association.
Finally, it allows for assistance to those with mortgages on multi-family dwellings instead of just single-family units. 
“Falling behind on mortgage payments or being at risk of foreclosure is becoming something more and more Illinoisans' face.  As the economy continues to struggle, I am glad to sponsor this legislation that will offer some needed relief and help keep families in their homes,” said Representative Howard.
“Under the legislation signed by the Governor today, a family will be able to hold on to their home, an owner will be able to get out of their rapidly rising variable interest payments. It is a good day when we can say that legislation we passed will help families get through this tough national economic climate,” said Senator Hunter.
As a result of these initiatives, the Governor’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force recently revoked the license of a mortgage company after receiving a complaint at a homeowner outreach event and a subsequent investigation. Also, dozens of Illinois families have received housing counseling in an effort to save their homes.
Those interested in more information about eligibility and the Finally Home expansion, visit www.treasurer.il.gov or call (888)803-4663.


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