Archive for March 18th, 2011

Hardest Hit – starting in April

Below is an article about Hardest Hit, a new program designed to help homeowners.  However, I strongly urge you to be careful – this program will not stop a foreclosure lawsuit against you, even if your application is being reviewed/processed.  Hence, just like with loan modifications, you could be foreclosed upon while you’re waiting for an approval!

A much-anticipated state program to help homeowners avoid foreclosure has been revised and now is expected to debut statewide in mid-April, Florida housing officials announced Friday.

Changes to the Hardest Hit Fund will mean less money for those who qualify, but Florida Housing Finance Corp. will be able to help about 40,000 homeowners, twice as many as expected, spokeswoman Cecka Green said.

“There were more people in need out there than we expected,” Green said. “It only made sense that we tighten the parameters a bit and help more people.”

Hardest Hit will cover mortgage payments for single-family homeowners who are unemployed or in jobs with salaries below what they need for basic living expenses. Money also will be used to bring delinquent mortgages current for homeowners who have returned to work or found higher-paying jobs.

The revisions call for homeowners to share in the cost of the program. They will contribute at least $70 per month or 25 percent of their monthly incomes, as determined by eligibility advisers.  Also, the changes will reduce to six months from 18 the amount of time homeowners can receive mortgage payments.

They can receive as much as $12,000 in mortgage payments and up to $6,000 to make mortgage payments current. Previously, they were eligible for up to $35,000 under one or both programs.  Last year, Florida received about $1 billion as part of a federal initiative to help states hit hard by the housing crash. Michigan and other states that received funds already have implemented their programs.

Florida Housing Finance began testing Hardest Hit in Lee County last year. More than 1,100 applications were received, with payments made on behalf of 126 homeowners. The agency still is reviewing 235 applications.

Florida Housing said last month that it expected to open applications statewide by the end of March.  Gov. Rick Scott‘s office announced recently that Hardest Hit was under review. U.S. Sen Bill Nelson said this week he wrote to Scott, seeking answers about the future of the program.

Bryan Gulley, a spokesman for Nelson, said the senator is pleased that Florida Housing Finance “took action to move the program forward.”

A spokesman for Scott could not be reached for comment Friday, despite attempts by phone and e-mail.  Florida Housing’s Green insisted there was no delay in implementing Hardest Hit and said the governor did not require the changes.

“Everyone is on the same page,” she said. “We all worked together.”

South Florida homeowners are eager to apply for the program, but some fear the help won’t come soon enough.

“If it ever finally comes to pass, that would be great,” said Barbara Mullenix of Sunrise.

For more information on Hardest Hit, visit

Mark Stopa

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