In case you missed the Op-Ed in the State by our awesome boss, Tim Evolina:
1) You can read it here.
2) I'll give you the run down.
In short, South Carolina is going to come into a good chunk of money, $32 million to be exact. However, instead of appearing out of thin air, this little bit of coinage is South Carolina's allocation from the National Mortgage Settlement. Attorneys General from all around the nation came together and took action against five national mortgage servicers whom they determined had abused the foreclosure and mortgage processes.
The settlement is being dolled out to certain states with certain stipulations - mainly that the funding is supposed to be used to counteract the consequences of the foreclosure crisis. It was agreed that appropriate uses of the money would include direct homeowner assistance, forclosure releif, legal assitance, foreclosure prevention programs, and community - blight remediation.
However, the SC General Assembly in its infinite wisdom deemed the settlement money would be more fitted for the Department of Commerce's "Deal Closing Fund". This fund is used to attract new business for the state.
Hence, some in the state are crying foul: organizations like the Affordable Housing Coalition, SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center, and the Local Housing Trust Funds. They came together, drafted talking points and a proviso.
The proviso comes into play much like when I explained Proviso 26.26 in last year's budget. The way funds are being directed to the Department of Commerce is through Proviso 90.19 in the budget (H4813). This is how the proviso reads:
90.19 (SR: National Mortgage Settlement) Notwithstanding the requirements of poviso 45.7 (Litigation Recovery Account) contained herein, the Attorney General shall transfer the portion of the National Mortgage Settlement that would otherwise have been credited to the General Fund to the Departmetn of Commerece's Deal Closing Fund.
This is how we would like for the Proviso to read:
90.19. (SR. National Mortgage Settlement) Notwithstanding the requirements of proviso 45.7 (Litigation Recovery Account) contained herein, the Attorney General shall transfer $10 million of the portion of the National Mortgage Settlement that would otherwise have been credited to the General Fund to South Carolina Legal Services for the purpose of representing indviduals in foreclosure or who need loss mitigation assistance and to provide counseling to assist individuals in avoiding foreclosure. South Carolina Legal Services may contract with local service providers for counseling services. The Attorney General shall transfer $17 million of the National Mortgage Settlement that would have otherwise been credited to the General Fund to the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority to be used for Mutlifamily Bond Program. In order to maximize the economic effect resulting from these projects, the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority shall enact covenants that direct 15% of net proceeds from the Multifamily Bond Program development projects funded via this proviso to the three local housing trust funds: Lowcountry Housing Trust, Community Works of Carolina, and the Midlands Housing Trust Fund, during the Qualified Project Period as defined by the Multifamily Bond Program. The balance of the funds shall be transferred to the Department of Commerece's Deal Closing Fund. Any portion not obligated within five years from the date of allocation shall be returned to the General Fund.
Essentially, redirecting some - but not all- of the funds to the folks was actually intended for.
We here at UWASC have a couple shout-outs on this issue.
1. Shout out to Senator Thomas. He referenced the proviso verison that we prefer and in essence announced his support of it. Thank you Senator Thomas!
2. Shout out to Representatives Ott, Dillard, and James Smith who put up a good fight in the House side trying to get the proviso amended in favorable terms.
If you would like to help the Association with this issue, please contact us! We would like volunteers to call their senators on the Finance Committee before Tuesday, May 1st to demonstrate their support for Senator Thomas' verison of 90.19!
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 540-848-5022.