Unemployed Homeowners: EHLP Is on the Way

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unemployed homeownersBeing unemployed took its toll quickly on Sharon Greene, a single mother of three and Philadelphia homeowner. Greene was already struggling to stay current on her mortgage when the news hit. The security company that employed her for the past 8 years had just laid her off, and the bills were piling up. Then the notice arrived.

"Every month, I'm up for a sheriff sale for my home to get sold," Greene told AOL Real Estate. "Every month, I'm fighting and fighting."



Greene is one of millions of unemployed homeowners on the brink of foreclosure. But help may soon be on the way -- as early as spring 2011, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

unemployed homeowners
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The HUD confirmed to HousingWire on Tuesday that the agency will invest $1 billion in mortgage assistance this spring for unemployed homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The program would pay up to $50,000 per eligible household. (See the chart below, provided by HousingWire, for a state breakdown of aid from the Hardest Hit Fund.)

"This would give me a solid foundation. I could breathe," Greene said during a phone interview from her Philadelphia home. "This program will help us get back on track to pay current [on the mortgage.]"

unemployed homeownersThe Emergency Homeowner Loan Program (EHLP) will be disbursed with a 0.0 percent interest rate and can be used for up to two years. To qualify, a borrower must prove loss of income or suffer from a medical condition. The household's annual income cannot exceed 120 percent of the area's median income, and must have been reduced by 15 percent over the last two years.

EHLP will be used to supplement the Treasury Department's Hardest Hit Fund, for a total of 32 additional states. (See left for the 18 states covered by the Hardest Hit Fund.)

EHLP was first announced in August, a month after the Dodd-Frank Act was signed. Since then, dozens of advocacy groups have urged HUD to streamline the process and set a firm start date.

According to an HUD spokesperson, homeowners should be able to apply to EHLP starting in the first quarter of 2011.

"There's money that's just sitting there –- been sitting there for six months already," says Greene. "Why is it sitting there when we can get approval and get back to our lives?"

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