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Bank of America Directs Relief to Hardest Hit Areas

Seal On Money BHBank of America is nearly two-thirds of the way toward fulfilling its obligation under its 2014 RMBS settlement in which it agreed to pay $7 billion in consumer relief as part of a $16.65 billion settlement with the government and six states.

In his fifth report on Bank of America’s progress toward fulfilling its settlement obligation, Professor Eric D. Green, Independent Monitor of the settlement, reported that he had conditionally approved approximately $295 million in consumer relief for Q4 2015. This brings Bank of America’s approved credit up to $4.44 billion, about 63 percent of the $7 billion the bank is required to pay under the terms of the settlement.

The majority of the $295 million the bank provided in Q4 was for modifications to an additional 5,172 loans ($244 million, or 83 percent). About $46 million of the relief went to new loans extended to 4,496 low- and moderate first-time homebuyers, borrowers in Hardest Hit Areas, or borrowers deposed by foreclosures or short sales. Approximately $4.76 million of the relief went toward facilitating affordable housing, according to the Monitor’s report.

Green stated that more than half of the relief provided by Bank of America so far has gone to those defined as Hardest Hit Areas by HUD, or the areas disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis. The relief provided by the bank has resulted in loan modifications in every state and the District of Columbia, or 47,117 census blocks total, according to the Monitor. The settlement has also financed 5,000 rental housing units so far, 68 percent of which are for HUD-designated Critical Needs Family Housing.

Bank of America“Most importantly, the data indicate that modifications for first lien principal reductions—the largest piece of intended consumer relief—are having their intended effect,” Green said. “The average principal reduction is 50.5 percent, the average loan-to-value ratio has been drastically reduced from 178 percent to 75 percent, the average interest rate has been more than cut in half from 5.42 percent to 2.11 percent, and critically, the average monthly payment has been reduced by $604 a month—nearly 38 percent. This directly and materially assists homeowners struggling to afford to stay in their homes.”

Having paid nearly two-thirds of the consumer relief obligation, Bank of America is on pace to fulfill its consumer relief requirement well before the August 2018 deadline.

On August 20, 2014, Bank of America settled with the Department of Justice and six states for a record $16.65 billion to resolve claims that the bank as well as its Countrywide, Merrill Lynch, and First Franklin divisions packaged and sold toxic mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations in the years leading up to the financial crisis.

Under the settlement agreement, Bank of America agreed to pay $9.16 billion directly to federal agencies and six states; $7 billion in consumer relief, which may include first-lien principal forgiveness or forbearance, second-lien extinguishment, and community reinvestment and neighborhood stabilization; and $490 million for the payment of consumer tax liability as a result of consumer relief.

For the monitor’s latest report, click here.

For more information on the settlement, or to view an interactive map to see what types of relief are going where, click here.

About Author: Brian Honea

Brian Honea's writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master's degree from Amberton University in Garland.
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