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Top Treasury Official Visits Cleveland to Find Foreclosure Solutions

Hoping to obtain advice on how to improve government foreclosure prevention programs, the ""Department of Treasury's"":http://www.treasury.gov/ Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, Herb Allison, made an unprecedented stop in Cleveland on Monday to hold a roundtable and hear from local homeowners and housing advocates first-hand.


The roundtable was held at the offices of Rep. Dennis Kucinich. According to an ""article on Newsnet5.com"":http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/top-treasury-official-comes-to-cleveland-to-see-foreclusre-crisis-for-himself, a local news station in Cleveland, the congressman had long pressed high-ranking officials from the Treasury Department to come to Cleveland, an epicenter of the foreclosure crisis, and see for themselves how bad it is.

Allison, who is second to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, oversees both the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the Hardest Hit Fund program that is providing more than $2.1 billion to address the foreclosure crisis in 10 states. Ohio is receiving $172 million through this program, the sixth highest allocation.

Two homeowners, Jim Ross and Amelia Ayad, both with Chase loans and working with ""Empowering & Strengthening Ohio's People"":http://www.esop-cleveland.org/ (ESOP), a foreclosure counsel-


ing agency in Ohio, were present at the roundtable. Along with other advocates, Ross and Ayad spoke about the power of ESOP's foreclosure prevention counseling services.

In a statement, ESOP said it was clear that Allison understood the importance of counseling as a key part of any foreclosure prevention solution.

""There is a growing consensus that counseling has a tremendous impact,"" Allison said. ""Some people have had to wait one year or more for a modification. There's no excuse for that.""

According to Newsnet5.com, Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis pointed out a problem with making the federal programs voluntary for institutions, and he also pushed Allison to consider instituting deadlines on banks to initiate ""an emergency mindset"" and get more help quickly.

While Allison balked at the idea of deadlines, he appeared open to all suggestions that could better get the money to homeowners who are sinking, Newsnet5.com said.

Allison also heard from Steve Nesmith, SVP and assistant general counsel for strategic and government initiatives with Ocwen. Nesmith told Allison that the government needs to ensure that it funds only those counseling agencies with effective, measurable outcomes.

That, Allison said, would require a rigorous system that standardized quality, criteria, training, and reporting requirements. He said this would simply take too long.

However, ESOP noted that the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program is already designed to do this. Instead of being cut, the funding for this program needs to be reinstated, the counseling agency said.

About Author: Brittany Dunn


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