During the peak of foreclosures, from the beginning of 2008 through 2011, more than 2,200 Jackson County homeowners whose mortgages were with the Big Five lenders lost their homes.
Those homeowners are eligible for compensation and other financial help following a national legal settlement. But Oregon officials are worried that many of the people who need that help won't get the notices and will miss next week's deadline for picking up the paperwork.
The former Jackson County homeowners are eligible to be among the beneficiaries of the $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement announced in September by the federal government and attorneys general for 49 states and the District of Columbia.
Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Ally/GMAC and Citibank already have paid $29.3 million to Oregon as part of the settlement. The so-called Big 5, which controlled about two-thirds of the mortgage lending during the four-year period, have pledged $300 million worth of loan modifications and other assistance to current customers.
Bank of America led the Big 5 with 931 foreclosures in Jackson County during the period, with Wells Fargo taking back 604 houses. JP Morgan Chase foreclosed on 366 properties, while GMAC (now Ally) took back 202 houses and Citibank took back 115. A total of 2,219 homes were foreclosed on in Jackson County in the four-year period.
Nearly 1,000 Medford homes were foreclosed on by the Big 5 between 2008 and 2011, including 513 in east Medford. Central Point had 369 foreclosures by the group during the period, Eagle Point 196 and Ashland 175.
Now it's up to those borrowers to act quickly to gain a share in the settlement funds or to have mortgages reworked.
"They have to act quickly," said Jeff Manning, a spokesman for the Oregon Justice Department.
Eligible borrowers may request packets including claim forms, instructions and answers to frequently asked questions through Friday, Oct. 12, at www.oregonhomeownersupport.gov. Claim forms are due by Jan. 18.
About $1.5 billion of the settlement is earmarked for 2 million borrowers nationwide. The exact payment will depend upon the total number of borrowers who participate. Eligible borrowers will receive between $840 and $2,000, as well as loan modification or assistance.
The state of Oregon has sent out about 30,000 notices to borrowers whose properties went through foreclosure. However, most of the intended recipients no longer reside at the last-known address.
"The state is concerned that some money could be left on the table simply because the eligible borrowers won't know to apply," Manning said. "It's a big problem because many of those people have changed addresses. We have little confidence that the notices will reach them."
Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.