Wisconsin homeowners to get $140 million under settlement

MADISON (AP) -- Wisconsin homeowners are expected to receive $140 million as part of a national $25 billion settlement announced Thursday with the nation's biggest mortgage lenders over foreclosure abuses.

The national settlement with Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial stems from abuses that occurred after the housing bubble burst. The settlement deal was reached after 16 months of negotiations with the banks and state attorneys general.

It only affects loans issued between 2008 and 2011.

Of Wisconsin's share, about $60 million in benefits will come from loan modifications and other direct relief. There will be about $17 million available for payments of up to $2,000 for those whose homes were foreclosed on and suffered servicing abuses.

About $31 million will be available in refinancing benefits for eligible borrowers who are currently making payments but owe more than their home is worth.

The state will get about $31.6 million to be used for future lawsuits, additional relief to borrowers, civil penalties or other mitigation programs.

Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced how the deal would affect Wisconsin homeowners.

"The people of this state, and our economy, have suffered enough from the unfair and deceptive practices of the mortgage industry," Van Hollen said in a statement. "Today, with this settlement, the banks and mortgage servicers are being held accountable and, more importantly, homeowners and communities are receiving much-needed assistance."

The settlement doesn't prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing civil lawsuits against the five lenders. It also does not grant any immunity from criminal offenses.

The deal is the biggest involving a single industry since a 1998 multi-state tobacco deal.

Borrowers should contact their mortgage lender for details about how to qualify under the settlement. The state Department of Justice has also posted information at its website: www.doj.state.wi.us.