Tuesday September 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- The state has awarded Pittsfield a $430,000 grant to put foreclosed homes back on the market and help other homeowners avoid foreclosure.

The Attorney General’s HomeCorps Community Re storation funds will be used as loans to rehabilitate four residential properties that have been foreclosed or are in receivership.

Pittsfield’s Department of Community Development has identified two vacant homes eligible for repair under the program, before they can be resold.

The City Council is expected to vote on accepting the grant tonight at its 7:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall.

Eight additional eligible homeowners, landlords or property investors may also apply to receive loans through the state grant to help repair their residential buildings for sale, according to the city’s community development specialist, Robert Cornwell.

"Those homes don’t necessarily have to be on the verge of foreclosure, but they could be," said Cornwell. "It can be an opportunity to keep owners from losing their homes."

"This grant award provides another tool to help strengthen our neighborhoods," Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said in a news statement announcing the program.

Cornwell said the funds will become available in about a month. Local guidelines for disbursing the loans are still being worked on.

Pittsfield’s grant comes from Massachusetts’ share of a $25 billion, 49-state settlement with the country’s five largest banks in connection with illegal foreclosures and loan servicing.

The settlement announced in February allocated $318 mill ion to Massachusetts, with the majority of the money going directly to homeowners currently seeking mortgage relief or those who lost their homes to foreclosure due to improper loan practices.

However, nearly $45 million was set aside, through Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, to assist homeowners having a variety of troubles maintaining or keeping their dwellings.

Pittsfield was one of 18 communities in Massachu setts to receive funding through the HomeCorps Comm unity Restoration program.

Homeowners, landlords or investors who are interested in applying for this funding should contact the Depart ment of Community Devel opment at (413) 499-9368.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.