Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program Back to Life

Because of money from a lawsuit settlement, a state mortgage assistance program is being revived.

The Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program is again offering help to struggling homeowners. It offers loans to those were not able to make their monthly mortgage payments, nor bring their balance current, nor subsidize payments for up to three years.

In order for borrowers to qualify for these loans, they should be living in the property as their primary residence, is struggling from financial problems that were not their fault, and have an acceptable probability of being able to continue paying.

Roughly 45,000 households have received assistance from the program since its start three decades earlier. In the last few years, the HEMAP program received funds of approximately $11 million every year, allowing it to give loans ranging from 1,500 to 1800 loans annually.

In Allegheny County, the number of loans dropped during the last half decade, from 212 in the year 2007 to 109 in 2010, and 92 in 2011. However, new loans from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, which is in charge of running the program, were stopped following the budget cut in the previous year to $2 million.

Fortunately, a multistate settlement collected a total $25 billion from the five biggest mortgage loan services in the nation. This means that a total of $66.5 million will be given to Pennsylvania as funding for the program.

According to a measure that the state Legislature accepted in June, 90 percent of the funds, or roughly $60 million, must be spent on the HEMAP program over the next three to five years. The rest will used to fund housing-related consumer protection programs, with the help of the state attorney general’s office, and also for legal assistance in terms of housing.

Gov. Tom Corbett said that the funding for HEMAP will mostly help struggling homeowners, and at the same time, it is important in the recovery of the state’s housing industry.

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