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Home News Thousands Benefit in First Year of Ohio's Foreclosure Assistance Program

Thousands Benefit in First Year of Ohio's Foreclosure Assistance ProgramPrintE-mailPDF

05 October 2011
Click here to learn more about Ohio's efforts to stop forelcosure

From Gongwer News Service, www.gongwer-oh.com, September 30, 2011.

One year in and a program offered through the Ohio Housing Finance Agency has provided assistance to nearly 3,000 people to stay in their homes while officials in charge of the initiative hope to help at least 50,000 more.

OHFA's statewide foreclosure prevention program, Restoring Stability: A Save the Dream Ohio Initiative, has helped more than 2,900 homeowners at risk of mortgage loan default or foreclosure since its inception in September 2010, the agency reports. The homeowners have received assistance totaling $23,362,921.

Ohio was one of 18 states and Washington D.C. to share $7.6 billion from the U.S. Treasury Department's Hardest Hit Fund to assist states impacted by severe foreclosure issues. Funding for states emerged under the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program. To implement the Restoring Stability initiative, which runs through 2017, OHFA was the recipient of about $570 million.

To qualify for help, homeowners must have suffered financial hardship such as unemployment, reduced wages or hours, death of a spouse, increased medical expenses or divorce.

OHFA Executive Director Doug Garver said the program is now assisting between 500 and 600 families a month in Ohio with additional availability.

"As of the last quarter, the Treasury numbers that they released (showed) Ohio was leading the country in the number of families assisted," Mr. Garver said in an interview. "We're proud of that but recognize that that's really what this thing is all about is to help families stay in their homes and to try and bring stability to local housing markets."

"Ultimately, we hope to help 53,000 families. So obviously we're real pleased to see these numbers continuing to grow."

Ohio has seen an increase in the number of foreclosures in each of the last 15 years, and the Restoring Stability program is helping to make a difference, said Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

A variety of factors have contributed to foreclosures decreasing in Ohio this year but he believes the initiative has played a significant role in driving them down.

While the program has improved the statewide foreclosure situation, Mr. Faith said, "We're not out of the woods on this problem," as about one in 12 Ohio mortgages is "seriously delinquent" meaning borrowers are at least 90 days behind on payments.

"The scary part of this is that while we're seeing a decline in foreclosures in part due to the success of this program, we still have an awful lot of people who are delinquent on their mortgage," he said.

The Restoring Stability program offers four services for homeowners:

  • Rescue payment assistance, which provides a payment to a homeowner's mortgage servicer to help bring current his or her delinquent mortgage.
  • Partial mortgage payment assistance, which gives up to 15 months of assistance for unemployed homeowners while they search for employment or participate in job training.
  • Modification assistance with principal reduction, which offers an incentive payment matched by an investor to reduce mortgage principal balance so a loan modification may be possible.
  • Transitional assistance, which gives an incentive payment to the mortgage lender and homeowner with a short sale of deed-in-lieu of foreclosure to provide assistance to homeowners exiting their homes.

Of the 2,913 homeowners receiving assistance, nearly 2,500 got aid through rescue payment assistance, while about 1,900 were helped through partial mortgage payment assistance. Thirty-five benefited from aid through lien cancellation and two received help through transitional assistance.

Homeowners can combine the services up to a maximum household benefit of $15,000 over 15 months. OHFA said more than 1,500 homeowners have received rescue payment assistance in conjunction with partial mortgage payment assistance.

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