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By: Trisha Ocona Francis

While tens of thousands of Americans are losing their homes to foreclosure every day and the unemployment rate still remains high, many middle-class American homeowners have asked the question, “Where is my bailout?” Well, our voices have not fallen on deaf ears.  Thousands of homeowners will finally have access to the miracle aid they have been seeking.

One-billion dollars has been awarded to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Protection Act for the Emergency Homeowner’s Loan Program (EHLP). Through this program, eligible homeowners can receive assistance with both their delinquent and future mortgage payments for up to 24 consecutive months or up to $50,000. This should give the granted homeowners enough time and financial assistance to get back on their feet and avoid losing their homes. This homeowners’ loan will be granted at 0% interest and be forgivable, which means the balance will be automatically reduced by 20% every year for five years until the balance is clear.

Some of the requirements include: [consult with an EHLP Counselor for all EHLP eligibility requirements]

  • Temporarily and involuntarily unemployed or underemployed due to the economy or a medical condition
  • At least 90 days delinquent on mortgage, with a risk of foreclosure and have received a written notice from lender stating such
  • Property must be owner’s primary residence
  • Applicant must be the deed holder
  • Property must be a single-family, multi-family up to four units, cooperative or condominium
  • Have a good history or paying the mortgage payments before income reduction.

The enrollment period ends on Friday, July 22, 2011. To be sure that homeowners are eligible, HUD requests that you take the first step by submitting a Pre-Applicant Screening Worksheet to an EHLP counseling agency.  This worksheet, along with a listing of counseling agencies in your area, can be found on the EHLP website www.ehlp.org or by calling 1.855.346.3345.  HUD may establish a random lottery program to select applicants in the event that submissions are higher than anticipated. If selected, applicants will be required to meet with an EHLP counselor to submit supporting documents. Lottery selection does not guarantee EHLP assistance. Once ultimately approved and selected, a homeowner’s contribution amount is determined by HUD, which is 31% of your currency monthly income or $150 (whichever is more) and the EHLP will pay the remainder of your monthly mortgage payment.

EHLP is available to homeowners in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. It is also offered in Puerto Rico. If EHLP is unavailable in your state or you are not eligible to qualify, visit http://www.findaforeclosure counselor.org to contact a counselor to discuss your options  and determine if your state has received funds through the U.S Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund Program.

I know many of us will think of this as another attempt to help American homeowners who won’t do much at all. However, remember home is the place you and your family rest their heads at night—an investment that has consumed a lot of your time and energy. It can be taken away from you for reasons beyond your control. Think of the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed, and take another shot at saving what we call home.”

*PLEASE NOTE: Both the EHLP application process and the opportunity to receive assistance from an EHLP counseling agency is FREE. Anyone who requests a fee for this kind of assistance is being deceitful.

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