DLLR at Your Door - A Monthly Update from DLLR Secretary Thomas E. Perez

SECRETARY PEREZ TESTIFIES BEFORE HOUSE ON FORECLOSURE CONCERNS

Secretary Tom Perez testified before Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on recommendations concerning the foreclosure process. The Secretary also testified before the House Economic Matters Committee and House Environmental Matters Committee. Click here to read the Secretary's testimony.

In the third quarter of 2007 RealtyTrac ranked the top 5 Maryland locations for the greatest mortgage foreclosure events:

  • Prince Georges County - 1,669
  • Baltimore City - 1,155
  • Montgomery County - 855
  • Baltimore County - 711
  • Anne Arundel County - 577

The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation continues to protect consumers facing foreclosure. DLLR’s Financial Regulation Enforcement Unit has initiated investigations into more than 120 mortgage related cases this year, and is in the process of hiring four new investigators to step up their efforts to root out mortgage fraud.

Meanwhile, Secretary Perez and Secretary Skinner (DHCD), co-chairs of the Homeownership Preservation Task Force sent the report to the Governor for his approval.

HOMEOWNERSHIP PRESERVATION TASK FORCE REPORT FINALIZED

Governor Martin O’Malley received the Homeownership Preservation Task Force’s final report this month. In June, Governor O’Malley charged the Task Force with finding both short term solutions to help homeowners in imminent danger of losing their homes to foreclosure, and long term solutions to support sustainable homeownership in the future.

The Governor appointed Secretary Tom Perez and Secretary Ray Skinner of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), to chair the Task Force which included representatives of community and professional organizations, lending institutions, state, federal and local housing agencies, and elected officials.

The Task Force divided into three work groups—Financial Resources, Education and Outreach, and Legal and Regulatory Reform—and met numerous times over the last several months to find consensus and develop recommendations for the Governor’s consideration. Some recommendations call for changes in Maryland law, while others expand existing programs to meet greater needs for education and outreach to Maryland’s homeowners. Governor O’Malley will weigh the recommendations of the Task Force before making recommendations for implementation.

The Task Force recommends that Maryland:

  • Create a “Homeownership Crisis Intervention Fund” to provide case-by-case interventions to prevent foreclosures and potential homelessness.
  • Expand options for homeowners to refinance or restructure mortgages to prevent foreclosure and address affordability.
  • Help communities in distress or at-risk due to concentrations of foreclosure activity in certain neighborhoods or jurisdictions.
  • Promote sustainable homeownership resources through statewide outreach and marketing campaigns that will reach homeowners throughout Maryland.
  • Strengthen and expand nonprofit financial and housing counseling statewide.
  • Coordinate all public and private resources available in Maryland to sustain homeownership.
  • Increase the Commissioner of Financial Regulation’s legal and regulatory oversight and enforcement
    of the mortgage lending industry to strengthen protections for homeowners and ensure the integrity of the industry.
  • Strengthen the laws and enforcement against fraud in mortgage transactions.
  • Improve Maryland's foreclosure process

These recommendations, based on the consensus of the Task Force, are intended to create a framework in Maryland to address the foreclosure crisis comprehensively with short and longterm fixes that allow greater protections and resources to assist homeowners. Click here for full report.

Once again Secretary Perez will be in the public educating Marylanders on the issue of mortgage foreclosure. He will be the keynote speaker at the Foreclosure Solutions Forum to be rescheduled in Annapolis.

Secretary Perez will also participate in the panel discussion along with the Baltimore and Prince George's Homeownership Preservation Coalitions, and the Maryland Housing Counselor's Network.

DAILY RECORD INTERVIEWS SECRETARY PEREZ

Secretary Tom PerezRead the Daily Record interview with Secretary Perez. In the article, Secretary Perez clearly articulates his vision for who we are as an agency and what we strive to become. Click to read entire interview.

Division of Labor and Industry

DLLR APPLAUDS HARFORD COUNTY COMPANY RECOGNIZED FOR SAFETY PROGRAM

Energy Recovery Operations, Inc. was acknowledged for its efforts Thursday, November 29, 2007, when Commissioner of Labor and Industry Ron DeJuliis presented the SHARP award to the company’s General Manager Jeffrey Poulton.

“A commitment to safety not only insures a safe work site but encourages those that come in contact with them to also take on the challenge of a safe and healthy work site,” said Commissioner DeJuliis. “A commitment by both management and workers to safety sets a standard that everyone can be proud of.”

SHARP stands for Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program and is an achievement recognition program of the OSHA consultation services which recognizes small employers who operate, at a particular worksite, an exemplary program that results in the immediate and long-term prevention of job related injuries and illnesses. SHARP sites have injury and illness rates below (better than) the industry average. Maryland’s SHARP assistance and evaluation process is handled by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) Consultation Program.

SHARP site candidates undergo a safety and health hazard evaluation by MOSH consultants, correct identified hazards, and implement an effective safety and health management system.

Elements of an effective safety and health management system include:

  • Management leadership and employee participation
  • Workplace analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Safety and health training

Energy Recovery Operations, Inc. operates the Harford County Resource Recovery Facility on behalf of the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority and Harford County, Maryland.

RECORD NUMBER OF APPRENTICES REGISTERED IN MARYLAND

Secretary Perez announced that for the first time in Maryland’s history the number of registered apprentices in State programs exceeds 10,000.

The Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program is housed under the Division of Labor and Industry. As of November 1, 2007, Maryland had a total of 10,191 registered apprentices. Of these registrations: 4,005 are minorities, 502 are women and 837 are US Service Veterans.

Maryland Commissioner of Labor and Industry J. Ronald DeJuliis attributed the increase in registrations to a corresponding increase in construction activity in the State. “The increase reflects growth in the construction sector, which encompasses 82.3% of the 227apprenticable occupations in Maryland.”

“The Program’s goal is to increase the number of sponsors and apprentices statewide to promote safety, accommodate growth and provide career opportunities for the citizens of Maryland,” said Director of Apprenticeship and Training Roger M. Lash Jr.

The Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council is the governing authority of the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program. The council is made up of employee representatives, management representatives and representatives of the public appointed by the Governor. MATC Chairman William L.Taylor said he was pleased that the milestone had been reached, and added that the council was dedicated to the growth and maintenance of Apprenticeship Programs in the State.

Division of Racing

Consider this...Did you realize that it takes approximately 7 acres of land to feed one horse for one year.

On Wednesday, November 28, 2007, Penn Maryland, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn National Gaming, Inc. announced it would not close on the purchase of Rosecroft Raceway, a harness-racing track in Prince George's County.

This comes on the heals of a legislative decision to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2008 ballot authorizing up to 15,000 slot machines in five locations, but not at any location in Prince Georges County.

Maryland Racing Commission Executive Director Mike Hopkins says that Rosecroft, for the time being, will continue to operate as usual.

Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

BEWARE OF UNLICENSED CONTRACTORS

If you need work done on your home, what’s the best way to go about finding a contractor? Everyone wants to find a good deal. But before you hire the contractor that offers the best price, make sure you ask to see the contractor’s license. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, you’re putting yourself at risk.

Marylanders are fortunate to have the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, an agency of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. All home improvement contractors – whether they’re painting, roofing, remodeling or making any other changes to your home – must receive a license from the Commission. Maryland has about 14,000 licensed home improvement contractors. It is a criminal offense to perform home improvement work without a license. The Commission receives about 3,000 complaints each year.

About 40 percent of them are against unlicensed contractors. Often these complaints result from a contractor taking money up front from a homeowner, and then never completing any work. Other times the contractor will begin a job and disappear without finishing it, or they will finish the job poorly. Unfortunately, if this happens to you and your contractor was not licensed, you are not eligible to apply for reimbursement from the guaranty fund, which helps homeowners who are ripped off by licensed contractors. You could end up losing the money you already spent, and having to pay a new contractor to complete any unfinished work. While the unlicensed contractor might seem like a better deal, in the end it will end up costing more. Before you hire a contractor, ask to see their license. Check the DLLR Web site,  and click on Occupational and Professional Licensing to make sure the license is current and valid or call the Maryland Home Improvement Commission at 410.230.6309.

State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
State of Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation 500 North Calvert Street Baltimore, MD 21202