Foreclosure Crisis
6:00 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Florida's Mortgage Mess: When Help Is At Arm's Length

Sometimes lenders are hesitant to take on government programs that could help foreclosure victims.
Credit Robert Lyle /WLRN
Foreclosure help in Florida comes with conditions.

Florida pops to the top of the list anytime someone mentions home foreclosures.

The federal government and the major banks are trying to help people modify mortgages so they can stay in their homes. But those programs frequently come with caveats and conditions.

Hardest Hit

Homeowners who are out of work or under-employed due to no fault of their own must turn to the federally funded Hardest Hit program.    

“When a person qualifies, they are able to receive up to 12 months of mortgage payments with a cap of 24-thousand dollars,” says Cecka Rose Green, the communications director with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. “When a person qualifies, they are able to receive up to 12 months of mortgage payments with a cap of $24,000.”  

She also says the help is given through a non-interest loan, which is forgiven if the person stays in their home for an additional 5 and a half years.    

Although the program aims to eventually help up to 30,000 homeowners, only 8,000 have been funded so far. Another 11,000 are currently being processed.

The Caveats

But there is one caveat in every modification program - the lender must approve. Over 260 lenders do participate here  – FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, among them. But not all the lenders that consider a loan modification will grant one. Some lenders won't even consider it. 

Marla Popkin, a Miami Occupational Therapist, has been keeping her mortgage up – but there’s little work and she’s at the end of her savings. 

"My loan company told me that that is why they don't participate in modifications is cause there is just too much government hoops to jump through." --Marla Popkin

Her mortgage holder won’t participate.

“My loan company told me that that’s why they don’t participate in modifications is cause there’s just too much government hoops to jump through," Popkin says.

If you are facing similar problems, there are resources at your disposal:

  1. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a series of online tips and resources to avoid foreclosure.
  2.  The Florida Housing Finance Corporation maintains a calendar of foreclosure counseling events and a list of approved foreclosure avoidance counselors.
  3. There is also a toll free number for HUD. It's 888-995-4673
  4. It is important to only use non-profit counseling services recommended by the HUD or by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
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