Spokane Journal of Business

Community organization gets $3 million state grant

SNAP hopes to prevent about 500 foreclosures within next five years

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Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs, or SNAP, has been awarded a $3 million grant by the state to go toward its foreclosure prevention program.

SNAP is one of 13 Washington nonprofits to get a portion of the $43.8 million the state received to fund home-foreclosure relief. The state funds are part of a national $25 billion settlement with the five largest mortgage providers in the United States.

SNAP says it plans to use the grant to prevent at least 500 foreclosures citywide during the next five years by increasing awareness of available resources within the community, lending to struggling homeowners, and providing case management during the foreclosure-prevention process.

Kerri Rodkey, financial access director for SNAP, says the grant will be used to lend to people on fixed incomes or who have little income and are at risk for foreclosure. SNAP plans to lend through its own community development financial institution subsidiary.

Rodkey says SNAP hasn't solidified what the lending requirements will be for the program, but says the program is geared toward those who are unable to refinance their mortgage or receive a loan modification because their income is too low.

She says the grant also will enable the organization to hire an additional person for its housing counseling department. The new hire will seek to help keep participating homeowners involved in the program, since resolving their housing finance woes can take time.

"People get discouraged and drop out," Rodkey says. "What we're trying to do is get people through that long process, so they can successfully receive a modification."

She says a portion of the funds will be designated for outreach within the community. The organization wants to connect with more homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure, particularly those who are low-income or minority homeowners, she says. The proposal submitted to the Washington State Attorney General's Consumer Foreclosure Remedies Committee by SNAP said roughly $55,000 would be set aside for advertising and outreach.

"We are so pleased that this mortgage settlement funding has come to Spokane and that Spokane homeowners will have the opportunity to benefit from this settlement," Rodkey says.

SNAP serves about 2,500 families in Spokane County with all of its programs. The housing counseling program has been around since 1986 and provides services to 400 to 500 people annually.

The $25 billion joint state-federal settlement, which was announced in February, came after state and federal investigations found the top five loan providers signed foreclosure documents without the presence of a notary and without verifying whether those documents were accurate. Attorney General Rob McKenna served on the executive team to negotiate the settlement.

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