TAMPA, FL (Aug 13, 2018) – Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County, Florida CEO Tina Swain issued the following statement in response to an article in the Tampa Bay Times regarding the recent sale of 12 mortgages:
“At Habitat Hillsborough, our top priority is always the well-being of Habitat homeowners. We work extensively with future homeowners to help get them prepared for the journey of homeownership. Habitat homeowners purchase their homes with an affordable mortgage designed to cost no more than 30 percent of their income.
“In order to carry out our mission and finance the construction of more affordable homes in Hillsborough County, we often transfer mortgages to other entities. The homeowners retain all the terms and responsibilities of their mortgages.
“We have become aware that the recent sale of these 12 mortgages, while legal, was not in line with Habitat for Humanity International policy, as the purchaser was not a regulated financial institution. At the direction of our board of directors, Habitat Hillsborough will seek to repurchase these mortgages immediately.
“We apologize to the affected homeowners for any confusion brought about by the sale of these mortgages, and any failure on our part to communicate the transfer adequately with them.
“Habitat for Humanity offers a hand up, not a hand out. Homebuyers agree to pay an affordable mortgage, and must comply with the terms of their mortgage like any other homeowner. Habitat Hillsborough works extensively with homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments to get them caught up. Foreclosures are always a last resort when a homeowner is unable to pay their mortgage.
“While due to privacy considerations we are not able to comment on any mortgage in particular, it is true that many of the mortgages in question have faced significant payment shortfalls in the past. We have worked with each of the homeowners in accordance with our policies, communicating with the homeowners frequently once they became delinquent in payments, providing contact information for nearby homeownership counseling agencies, and seeking modifications and payment plans whenever appropriate with the goal of keeping these homeowners in their homes. If we are successful in retaking possession of these mortgages, we will resume our work with the homeowners and work within the terms of the mortgages to address any shortfalls in their mortgage payments.
“Mortgage payments go directly to supporting the construction of new affordable homes in the community. While we do everything we can to prevent foreclosures, the fact remains that our failure to collect mortgage payments would directly lead to our inability to help others in Hillsborough County achieve their dreams of homeownership.
“Habitat Hillsborough is committed to serving our community and working toward our vision that everyone will have a safe, decent and affordable place to live. We have served 200 families through our construction program and many more through home preservation. We owe our community our commitment to be responsible fiscal stewards of the resources provided to us, so we can reach our goal of serving 50 more families in Hillsborough County this fiscal year.”
About Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County
Habitat for Humanity of Hillsborough County became an affiliate in 1987 and is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization founded and operated on Christian principles. Habitat Hillsborough is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their housing conditions. Habitat Hillsborough also operates two Tampa ReStores at 3738 E. Hillsborough Avenue, 11236 W. Hillsborough Avenue, and one in Brandon at 501 W Robertson Street, which offer a wide variety of new and used building materials and home goods at discount prices. Habitat Hillsborough has built over 195 homes across the county. In addition, they serve homeowners through their home preservation program.