LETTER: Foreclosure prevention program could save your home

To the editor:

Readers whose homes are in, or threatened with foreclosure should learn about the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund, reported in an illuminating Charlotte Observer “Business Sunday” article (July 5, pages 17A-18A).

Nearly 20,000 families across North Carolina have been preserved by the state’s foreclosure prevention program since 2010. This program was created and is managed by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency using funds from the U.S. Treasury’s “Hardest-Hit Fund.” The agency resulted from teamwork among clerks of courts, mortgage servicers, foreclosure attorneys and the N.C. Office of the Commissioner of Banks.

The agency has until December 2017 to exhaust all of the remaining funds, anticipated to assist at least 2,000 more homeowners.

Homeowners can get help by visiting one of the HUD-approved counseling agencies that are located statewide. The Mortgage Prevention Program offers qualified applicants zero-interest loans up to $36,000 to cover your mortgage and related expenses for up to 36 months. The N.C. Housing Finance Agency will make your mortgage payment directly to your loan provider or bank. At the end of the assistance period, you resume making your mortgage payment. There are additional protections and supports as well.

To qualify, generally, you could be experiencing unemployment, be a returning veteran enrolled in college under the GI Bill, experiencing a loss of income, seeking new employment to recover from a hardship (e.g. divorce), unable to pay your mortgage due to a qualified hardship but are eligible for fixed-income payments from retirement, Social Security, disability, VA benefits etc., have a good prior payment history and currently owe no more than $300,000 on all your mortgages.

The program offers one-time assistance to bring your mortgage current, or short-term assistance while you look for a job, or long-term assistance while you participate in an approved job retraining program. The article indicates a “majority” of qualified applicants seeking this assistance are successful in obtaining closed loans.

I have included useful points from this article, well worth reading in its entirety if you have foreclosure issues. A local bank official could offer more clarification. To learn more online about the N.C. Foreclosure Prevention Fund, go to www.NCForeclosurePrevention.gov.

The thousands of homeowners who have been helped, and the billions of equity dollars that have been saved since 2010 is very impressive, and shows how effective public and private sector collaboration can be to meet the needs of a large North Carolina population made foreclosure vulnerable by the recent Great Recession.

John Robich