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The City of Milwaukee and Ocwen Financial Corporation have announced an initiative to provide substantial assistance through a five-part plan designed to help Milwaukee homeowners meet housing needs over the next three years (2016-2018). Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Michael J. Murphy said the company will provide the assistance through a combination of Ocwen, City of Milwaukee and local non-profit programs to help residents throughout the city keep and repair their homes. The plan includes a commitment to enhance their efforts to provide mortgage loan modifications to Ocwen’s customers in the city and a $225,000 donation to support the City of Milwaukee’s Strong Homes loan program from 2016 through 2018.
“I’m pleased Ocwen shares my commitment to doing everything we can to keep Milwaukee homeowners in their homes. This program will help homeowners who face economic challenges by providing loan modifications as well as low interest loans to help finance critical repairs to their homes,” said Mayor Barrett. “Residents who own their homes add value and stability to Milwaukee neighborhoods, and I don’t want anyone to lose their home unnecessarily.”
The five-part plan for Milwaukee includes the following elements:
►Ocwen will enhance its efforts to reach struggling borrowers in Milwaukee and offer sustainable mortgage loan modification options. This assistance will help qualified customers reduce their mortgage payments and avoid foreclosure.
►Ocwen will provide $225,000 ($75,000 per year for three years) to the City of Milwaukee to support the Strong Homes Loan Program through 2018.
►Working with community partners and the City, Ocwen will conduct three face-to-face customer outreach events per year in Milwaukee for the next three years to meet with and help Ocwen customers struggling with their mortgage payments.
►To assist with community revitalization efforts, Ocwen will consider donating specific properties it owns in Milwaukee so that they can be rehabilitated by local families or non-profits. These properties will be donated along with a contribution to support renovation costs.
►To further enhance its efforts in the city, Ocwen will donate $200,000 over the next three years to various Milwaukee based non-profit community groups, and work with them, to help struggling borrowers and to reduce city blight.
“The foreclosure crisis in Milwaukee was complex—its impact is still felt by many homeowners in our city,” said Common Council President Michael J. Murphy. “Partnerships have been an integral element to fighting the debilitating effect foreclosures have on neighborhoods. This newest partnership will not only help people stay in their homes, but it also helps homeowners make the repairs needed to make their properties a positive asset in their neighborhood.”
“As a nationwide servicer, Ocwen understands the foreclosure crisis is not over and that many geographic areas in the country, including Milwaukee, are still dealing with the aftermath of the mortgage crisis. We understand the problems facing homeowners and communities across America and we look forward to working with the City to offer real solutions and financial support that can help make a difference for homeowners in Milwaukee,” said Ron Faris, president and CEO of Ocwen. “Since 2008, more than 2,000 Milwaukee families have received a modification from Ocwen and over half of those involved a reduction in principal. We appreciate the assistance and guidance from Mayor Tom Barrett and Common Council President Michael Murphy, who helped us better understand the local challenges facing the community and worked with us to find solutions. Ocwen is committed to helping homeowners have every opportunity to remain in their homes and we are pleased to be working with the entire City of Milwaukee to make this happen.”
The five point plan is the product of numerous discussions among the Mayor, Common Council President and Ocwen since July 2015. In addition to the plan, Ocwen and City officials have worked together on targeted outreach to delinquent Ocwen borrowers and have increased compliance with City registration ordinances to mitigate issues with vacant and “zombie” properties. Ocwen currently services approximately 4,100 customers in Milwaukee, and approximately 80 percent of them are current. Of that total, approximately 150 of those loans were in foreclosure. The company also has reduced the number of vacant homes it manages and services, and is committed to full compliance with City ordinances and maintenance standards while properties move through the mortgage-foreclosure process. Ocwen currently services approximately 90 real estate-owned (REO) properties in Milwaukee for private investors.