COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - Florida's $1 billion mortgage assistance program is now at the center of a federal investigation. This comes after U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) raised concerns that Florida misused money from the Hardest Hit fund.
The Hardest Hit fund was established in 2010 to help states hardest-hit in the housing market. Over the past three years, Florida received more than one billion dollars.
"Low and behold the state of Florida would not spend the money. They spent only 16 percent of the money allocated to Florida," says Sen. Nelson.
Concerns voiced by the Senator have launched a federal investigation. The U.S. Treasury Department announced Thursday it will audit Florida's mortgage assistance program.
Senator Nelson says this is a crucial step toward getting financially strapped homeowners the help they need. "It was money out of tarp under theory that if you can stay in your home at the end of the day it's going to be a lot more for the quality of life."
Nabil Joseph is a legal assistant at the Law Office of Conrad Wilkhomm in Naples. As the manager of the short sale department he says he's not surprised to hear the fund has been under utilized.
"There's nothing surprising about it because the limitations are so much, you cannot give money out when people are not qualifying and to qualify for this you need to be in a perfect scenario," says Joseph.
He says he has not seen anyone qualify for the program. "These programs are meant to work but there's too many limitations, the homeowner isn't going to get the help it needs because of that."
A local representative who works for the hardest hit fund could not go on camera, but calls the investigation abrupt. He says this program is one piece of the puzzle helping those through foreclosure.