Governor Highlights Mortgage Assistance Program

Montpelier, Vt. – May 14, 2008 – Governor Jim Douglas and banking commissioner Paulette Thabault today highlighted the new Vermont Mortgage Assistance Program and encouraged Vermonters who need assistance to seek guidance from mortgage specialists in state government.

As part of his 15-point Economic Growth Initiative, Governor Douglas created the Vermont Mortgage Assistance Program for Vermonters at risk of defaulting on a mortgage.

The new program is a central clearing house able to steer borrowers toward relief, refinancing options, credit counseling or other options that may be available them. It also includes a new toll-free assistance line staffed by a Mortgage Assistance Specialist from the department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISCHA).

The Governor also asked BISCHA to help Vermonters on the brink of foreclosure negotiate 60 day grace periods. “This will provide relief and time for our mortgage assistance specialist to help homeowners and lenders map out other financing mechanisms and alternatives to foreclosure,” the Governor said.

With the lowest foreclosure rate in the country, Vermont has done much better than other states. And because of strong consumer protection laws Vermont continues to have one of the lowest percentages of sub-prime adjustable rate loans of any state in the country, the Governor noted when he introduced this piece of his 15-point economic stimulus package. “Nevertheless, Vermonters have not been entirely immune from predatory lending practices or the repercussions of the national economic down turn in the real estate markets. We must do everything we can to help those families at risk of losing their homes,” Douglas said.

“Borrowers should ask for assistance if they are in difficulty, or see difficulties ahead,” said Commissioner Thabault. “The sooner borrowers seek help, the better. They will have better options for solving problems if they come to us before any foreclosure action begins, rather than after the process has started. And, all discussions are confidential.”

Vermonters can reach the Vermont Mortgage Assistance Program by calling 1-888-568-4547 or online at http://www.bishca.state.vt.us

ABOUT THE GOVERNOR’S ECONOMIC GROWTH INITIATIVE

On April 19, Governor Jim Douglas presented a 15-point economic package to encourage growth, create jobs and help Vermont emerge from the current national economic challenge with a stronger and more resilient economy.

After an unenthusiastic reception, and steady insistence from the Governor, legislative leaders eventually warmed to Douglas’ plan and passed, with a few minor modifications, an overwhelming majority of his proposals.

Among other items, the Governor’s Economic Growth Initiative includes homeownership and mortgage assistance programs, investments in transportation jobs, job creation tax credits, very low interest capital for small businesses and startups, investments in downtown development and the Governor’s New Neighborhoods affordable home construction initiative. In total, the Governor’s package has the potential to generate more than $200 million in direct economic activity and millions of dollars more in indirect economic multipliers.

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