More than 18,000 homeowners in North Carolina have saved their homes as a result of a statewide foreclosure prevention effort, according to a release from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA).
Funded by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Hardest Hit Fund program, the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund has been saving homeowners from foreclosure since the program began in 2010 by making monthly mortgage payments on behalf of qualified unemployed homeowners who are either looking for a job or completing training.
"While both the economy and the foreclosure rate have improved in North Carolina, home foreclosures are still occurring in greater numbers than before the Great Recession," said A. Robert Kucab, executive director of the NCHFA. "There were more than 32,000 filings in North Carolina last year. Every foreclosure is a huge loss for the homeowner’s family, but also for the state’s economy. So far, this effort has preserved more than $3 billion in property values statewide."
Eligibility for the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund was expanded in 2014 to include veterans who have returned and are going to college using the GI Bill; formerly unemployed homeowners who have returned to work but cannot make mortgage payments because they are earning less than they were before; and homeowners who are searching for new employment after suffering financial hardships as a result of divorce or death of a spouse.
Assistance through the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund is available at no cost to qualifying homeowners, and is offered in two ways:
- Designed to help homeowners who are searching or training for a job, the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund offers a zero-interest, deferred loan for up to $36,000 to pay mortgage-related costs for up to 36 months
- To help the homeowner who finds a job at a reduced income, the fund offers a zero-interest loan to pay off a second mortgage in order to lower the homeowner's monthly mortgage payment to an affordable level.
Homeowners who have fallen behind on their monthly mortgage payments can utilize the loan to bring their mortgage current, though they need not be behind on payments to qualify for assistance. Also, those homeowners who are re-employed at a lower wage can qualify for and receive monthly assistance while they search for a higher-paying job.
One homeowner who benefitted from the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund was identified by the NCHFA as Kathryn D. from Charlotte. Her auditor job was eliminated in 2012 but she received assistance through the foreclosure prevention fund, Kathryn and her husband were able to maintain their home until she found a job in early 2014.
"If I hadn’t found out about the North Carolina Foreclosure Prevention Fund, I would have lost my house, no doubt," she said. "It kept a roof over my head at a time when we couldn't pay all our bills or even buy enough food. I would have lost my house and been living on the street."
Eligible homeowners can apply for assistance through any of 40 participating HUD-approved counseling agencies, or they can apply online at www.NCForeclosurePrevention.gov. According to the NCHFA, the NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund still has the funding available to assist about 3,000 homeowners.