Distressed homeowners at risk of foreclosure can get emergency financial aid from the federal government, but they have to act fast. Deadlines are tight, and struggling borrowers are already flooding the program with inquiries, according to the nonprofit Help Share the Word.
In February 2010, the United States Treasury launched the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), a free and simple program to provide $7.6 billion in aid to 18 states and the District of Columbia that absorbed the worst of the housing and foreclosure crisis. Each state housing agency gathered public input to implement programs designed to meet the distinct challenges struggling homeowners in their state were facing.
But many people are unsure of how to access the funds and are unaware that they are available today to help.
“Help Share the Word was created for the sole purpose of informing homeowners who are unaware that there are programs available to offer this type of assistance,” said Sergio C. Munoz, senior vice president for Help Share the Word. “The greatest obstacle to the success of this program is the fact that many of those people who would benefit most from the Hardest Hit Fund are unaware of its existence. The most important thing people can do to help is to simply spread the word that the resources our neighbors need are available through this fund.”
States were chosen for the HHF program based on two categories: 1) their unemployment rates needed to be at or above the national average, and 2) home price declines needed to be greater than 20 percent. The distribution of the funds varies by state, and homeowners must contact their state housing finance agency to apply for aid. The Hardest Hit Fund has a projected goal to help about 140,000 borrowers avoid foreclosure or short sale.
HHF programs are designed and administered by each state’s Housing Finance Agency (HFA). Most of these programs are aimed at helping unemployed homeowners remain in their homes while they search for new employment, and homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
As part of the bank bailout, theTreasury Department was given $46 billion to spend on keeping homeowners in their houses. As of June 30, 2012, only $1.1 billion had been drawn by the states from HHF, according to a July SIGTARP report. As of March 31, 2012, only $351 million has been spent assisting 43,580 homeowners.
The states where homeowners are eligible for assistance through the HHF are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.
For more information, visit Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund page or contact your state housing finance agency.
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