COLUMBUS DISPATCH – Sunday, June 6, 2010 02:58 AM

First, Sen. Sherrod Brown was upset because the Obama administration left Ohio out of a foreclosure-assistance program. Now, the Ohio Democrat is steamed again because none of the money coming to Ohio can be used by legal-aid societies to help homeowners.

In March, the Treasury Department said it would send $172 million to Ohio to help ease the housing-foreclosure problem. That came a month after Brown and other Ohio lawmakers and officials complained about the state being left out of a $1.5 billion foreclosure-relief program aimed at helping Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada.

But Brown is complaining again to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, this time about his agency’s decision that legal-aid societies shouldn’t get any of the foreclosure-relief money. Ohio Poverty Law Center senior staff attorney Linda Cook said her organization estimated that legal-aid societies could help about 3,000 Ohio homeowners deal with legal problems associated with facing foreclosure – and produce a “win-win” resolution and people get to stay in their homes.

Brown said in a letter to Geithner last week: “Legal-aid services are immensely useful to homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments, sometimes because they are unable to access benefits like unemployment insurance. Foreclosure counseling is a similarly vital service.”

Brown’s office said last week that he had not yet received a response from Geithner.

By Jonathan Riskind, Reporter, Columbus Dispatch