Urges Prompt Action on Relief and Recovery Budget Proposal
PHILADELPHIA, April 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After a year in which foreclosures in Pennsylvania increased by nearly 130 percent and a month when more families than ever turned to the state for help staying in their home, Governor Edward G. Rendell today reminded homeowners that help is available and that his budget proposal will provide citizens with relief and spark economic recovery.
The Governor visited Northwest Counseling Service in Philadelphia where he met with families who have benefited from the state's Home Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program and others who are looking for help.
Last month, the Governor redirected $5 million in additional funding to HEMAP so the program could assist approximately 550 additional families.
"Many Pennsylvania families have been profoundly impacted by the national recession," said Governor Rendell. "In the last year, we have lost over 115,000 jobs, including 41,000 jobs in February - marking the largest job loss in a single month in 13 years. That means more citizens lost their healthcare and more families made hard decisions about which necessities to cut out of their budgets.
"Recent reports have given me a sense of optimism that a recovery may be underway, but we must act now to protect our families and provide them with relief to help advance the state's economic recovery. The budget I've proposed does that, however those struggling to cope cannot wait for the General Assembly to act on it. That's why I've taken a series of executive actions to provide immediate relief, including making more resources available to help families avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes."
There were nearly 43,000 foreclosure filings in Pennsylvania in 2008--a 127 percent increase over 2007. In February alone, there were 3,682 foreclosure filings in Pennsylvania, including 1,551 in Philadelphia and its four suburban communities, 735 in Allegheny County, 103 in Lackawanna County, 84 in Erie County, and 49 in Dauphin County.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency reported that it received more than 1,450 applications for help through HEMAP--the most ever in a single month. Already this year, the program has helped 2,200 families avoid foreclosure.
The Governor also cited a figure showing that more than 88,000 Pennsylvanians owe more on their homes than what the house is worth - meaning 1 in every 15 homeowners with a mortgage has what is known as an "underwater" loan.
"These numbers demonstrate the challenges facing our families and their need for help making it through these hard times," said Governor Rendell. "But those challenges extend beyond housing. People, who through no fault of their own, who have lost a job are not only trying to manage the loss of their income, they're trying to manage loss of the health insurance coverage or other benefits."
In addition to providing additional funding to HEMAP, Governor Rendell also took steps to cut the adultBasic program waiting list by as many as 16,000 people; extend home heating assistance to benefit approximately 19,000 families; expand the hours and operation of state-run Pennsylvania CareerLink centers; and launched a new Web site, www.PaRxPriceFinder.com, allowing consumers to find the best local price for prescription drugs.
The Governor also launched www.HereToHelp.pa.gov, a Web site offering easy access to existing state programs that can serve citizens of all ages and businesses on matters of unemployment compensation, property tax relief, veterans benefits, education, job training, as well as health care and prescription drug coverage.
"I am hopeful that recent economic news, combined with the aggressive efforts of the Obama Administration, will soon lead to a brighter future for Pennsylvania and our nation," said the Governor as he noted the nearly $18 billion Pennsylvania expects to receive through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act over the next few years that will advance Pennsylvania's efforts to achieve energy independence, improve public schools, keep property taxes stable, lower the cost of and increase access to health care, and make needed investments in infrastructure.
"As we work to realize that recovery, we need to take steps now to ensure that Pennsylvania is positioned to emerge stronger than it was before," said Governor Rendell. "My budget proposal does that. It's a plan to put hundreds of thousands of people to work, to provide affordable health care across our state, and provide much-needed tuition relief - all in the coming year. I urge the General Assembly to recognize the need for prompt action and that is why I have called on them to accelerate the traditional pace of budget negotiations.
"Citizens of this state need jobs and health care -- and they cannot afford to wait."
For more information on the Governor's budget proposal, visit www.pa.gov.
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.
CONTACT: Chuck Ardo 717-783-1116
|SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor|
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