Maryland, banks reach foreclosure-abuse settlement

U.S. states reached a landmark $25 billion deal Thursday with the nation's biggest mortgage lenders over foreclosure abuses that occurred after the housing bubble burst.

The deal requires five of the largest banks to reduce loans for about 1 million households at risk of foreclosure. The lenders will also send checks of $2,000 to about 750,000 Americans who were improperly foreclosed upon.

The banks will have three years to fulfill the terms of the deal.

In Prince George's County, homeowners face the highest foreclosure rate in the Washington area. Many had almost given up.

“I can't ever see how I'm going to get out of it,” says Karen Lancaster of Upper Marlboro.

But Thursday, there is new hope for families everywhere trying to keep their homes. Maryland got the sixth biggest payout in the country in the $25 billion dollar deal.

It's the largest industry settlement since the tobacco deal - and this time, the money goes directly to the victims of the bank.

“We are getting one billion dollars right here in Maryland, directly to helping people” says Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler.

Unlike previous efforts, the agreement also applies to those current with their payments but with homes underwater - meaning the loan is more than the house is now worth.

“It's terrifying - especially when you feel like you did the right thing and you are making payments,” says Patricia Monteith of Rockville.

Some will see principal reductions while others will qualify to refinance their mortgages at much lower rates.

And this time - added teeth to helping those in need.

“This program unlike some other programs has an enforcement component so there will be monitoring and oversight to make sure that money is going to the homeowners that need it,” says Mary Hunter of the Housing Initiative Partnership.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.