Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reagor: Few details on plan for refinancing

Few details have emerged about an expanded federal refinancing plan for homeowners who are underwater. President Barack Obama mentioned the plan in a speech a few weeks ago. He said it would allow many borrowers who owe more than their house is worth to refinance into a loan with 4 percent interest.

Since then, there hasn't been any information on the program, which could be an extension of the Home Affordable Refinance Plan known as HARP. Currently under that federal plan, homeowners with mortgages owned by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and some of the other big lenders can apply to refinance to the current lower interest rates if they don't owe more than 125 percent of what their house is worth.

In metro Phoenix, that ratio would have to be upped to at least 150 percent to really help homeowners since home values have dropped at least 50 percent in most of the region's neighborhoods. Most of the government and private housing counselors who attended the Arizona Housing Department's annual conference last week are waiting for more details on the expansion of the federal refinancing plan.

Housing heroes

Every year since 2003, the Arizona Housing Department has honored the state's top housing advocates and affordable-home projects. Here are this year's heroes:

- Elected official: Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot for his efforts to find permanent housing for the homeless; affordable housing for lower-income, senior and special needs families; and stabilizing neighborhoods.

- Outstanding affordable-housing initiative: The Devine Legacy on Central affordable-housing project in downtown Phoenix for its energy efficiency and high-density design. Devine Legacy was developed to be a transit-oriented live and work project for people of different incomes. Its developer is Native American Connections.

- Innovative supportive-housing program: A project called 51 Homes Tucson for combating homelessness and providing needed services to people living on the streets.

- Exemplary rural multifamily project: The Foundation for Senior Living's Yuma Senior Terraces project was recognized for providing an innovative and healthy living environment for that city's seniors.

- Exemplary urban multifamily project: Tucson's Depot Plaza/Martin Luther King Revitalization Project for its transformation of a decaying neighborhood.

- Tribal initiatives award: The Pascua Yaqui Tribe for helping its members to find affordable and more livable housing.

- Arthur Crozier partner in housing award: Olga Osterhage of Tucson for her years of working to provide better public housing.

by Catherine Reagor The Arizona Republic Sept. 28, 2011 12:00 AM

Reagor: Few details on plan for refinancing

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