Federal program offers help to homeowners dealing with long-term unemployment
Image source: J Ronald Lee via Flickr Creative Commons
Although it seems as if North Carolina unemployment is on the decline, it may or may not be. Some theorize that many long-term unemployed are simply dropping out of the workforce – this is not the upside that statistics indicate. What remains true is that many in our state have been suffering from long-term unemployment and with NC refusing extended benefits, families are experiencing severe hardship as a result. If you're one of the jobless and are struggling with your mortgage, you should know there's hope.
11% of NC homeowners are underwater on their mortgage (i.e. owe more than their home is worth) but another 16% are on the other end of the spectrum have more than 50% equity in their homes. For those in over their heads, a foreclosure isn't the end of the world, but if you've got equity, losing your home can be financially catastrophic. But a federally funded program – NC Foreclosure Prevention – can help if you meet certain criteria. The program has already helped 15,000 NC homeowners and has the financing available to help another 6,000.
The NC Foreclosure Prevention Fund was established to help those who have lost their jobs or are struggling financially as a result of an illness, divorce or the loss of a spouse. The way the fund works is that it loans you up to $36,000 interest-free for up to 36 months to help you pay your mortgage payment and other living expenses until you can get back on your feet. The fund also offers up to $30,000 to assist with a second mortgage you can't afford.
To apply for assistance through this program, click here to access a map of housing counselor offices you can contact for more information. To be eligible for the program, your home must be located in North Carolina and must be your primary residence that you personally own. You must have less than a $300,000 balance on your primary and any secondary mortgages. Your unemployment or financial hardship must have been through no fault of your own and the hardship must have occurred after January 1, 2008.
Additional caveats are that you must have had a history of consistent mortgage payments prior to the event that caused your hardship and you must be able to substantiate that you will be able to resume making full, on-time payments once your hardship is resolved (i.e. once you get another job). If this is your circumstance, contact the program as soon as possible because funds are limited.
If you are in even more dire straits with your mortgage and have received a foreclosure notice, this program isn't the best fit for you, but you may be able to save your home with help from the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project. SHFPP provides struggling borrowers with counseling and legal assistance to work with your mortgage holder to try and retain your home.
Depending on how current you are with your mortgage payments, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be an ideal solution to unload some (or much) of your unsecured debt so that you can focus more of your income toward your home loan. Contact the law offices of John T Orcutt for a free consultation to find out how we can help you.