Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2011
In just one week’s time, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation has received nearly 9,500 applications from unemployed homeowners seeking financial assistance through the state’s Hardest-Hit Fund (HHF) program.
Following a successful six-month pilot run in Lee County, the state housing agency launched the program statewide on April 18, making it available to troubled homeowners in all 67 counties.
The counties with the largest number of applicants so far are Broward (1,638), Miami-Dade (1,027), Orange (957), and Palm Beach (939).
The program is funded by the U.S. Treasury as part of an initiative announced last February to target grant money to areas that have been hit the hardest by the housing downturn and financial crisis.
To date, $7.6 billion has been infused into the Hardest-Hit Fund for 18 states and the District of Columbia. Florida’s total allocation currently stands at more than $1 billion.
The goal is to help troubled homeowners sustain and keep their homes, ultimately, to avoid foreclosure. The program enlists the assistance of state housing finance agencies to develop localized programs that address the problems facing homeowners in their states, such as high unemployment or extreme cases of negative equity.
Florida’s effort is two-fold. The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP) will provide up to $12,000 to pay monthly mortgage and escrowed mortgage-related expenses for up to six months, or until the homeowner can resume making mortgage payments. Homeowners in this program are required to pay 25 percent of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment, with a minimum payment of $70 per month.
The Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment Program (MLRP) will provide up to $6,000 to bring the homeowner’s past-due first mortgage current if the homeowner can show the ability to resume making mortgage payments on their own. For a homeowner who received funding from the UMAP program, any unused funds up to $12,000 may be used in addition to MLRP funds to help bring the first mortgage current.
Assistance through both programs will be in the form of a 0 percent, deferred-payment loan. The loan can be forgiven over a five-year period, at a rate of 20 percent each year.
The Florida Housing Finance Corp. also issued a warning to Florida homeowners to be aware that several “imposter” Web sites have been identified portending to be part of the state-run program. The agency is encouraging applicants to verify they are using the state’s official site before providing their personal information.
By: Carrie Bay DS NEWS