With federal dollars to spend, Georgia looks to help homeowners
Even though the worst of the recession hit a few years ago, thousands of homes in Georgia continue to face foreclosure. As we discussed in a post last month, a quarter of homeowners in Atlanta have more in mortgage debt than their homes are worth. What some people in this situation may not realize, however, is that there are ways to get help and possibly save their homes.
When foreclosures hit the nation hard a few years ago, the federal government offered financial aid to several states based on need. Georgia received nearly $340 million that was supposed to help keep struggling homeowners in their homes. The state, however, did not do a great job of making sure its homeowners got the assistance they needed. Recently, however, some changes were made to the program that will hopefully ensure that Georgians will benefit more.
HomeSafe Georgia, the program established to help get federal dollars to struggling homeowners, was initially difficult to be approved for. If a homeowner was already facing bankruptcy or foreclosure, had a full-time job, or lost a job but was not yet behind on the mortgage, he or she was deemed ineligible for aid. Oddly, those who couldn’t make mortgage payments because of an illness or the death of a loved one were also ineligible.
Recognizing that the qualifications were too strict — and with a deadline looming to use or lose the money the state was given — officials changed the qualifications. The state loosened the requirements. Now, underemployed or unemployed people can qualify for assistance, even if they are less than 12 months behind on their mortgage. With the new criteria in place, the state is now focusing on awareness. Homeowners can’t benefit if they don’t know about the opportunity.
Georgia has more than $274 million left to spend by the end of 2017. Whatever is left over will go back to the federal government. Atlanta residents who are struggling with home payments may want to consider applying to the HomeSafe Georgia program.
Source: Creative Loafing, “Georgia’s foreclosure prevention program gets overhauled,” Thomas Wheatley, March 4, 2014