If you visited Florida’s Hardest-Hit Program website recently, you were likely greeted with a message stating that applications were no longer being accepted. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation made the decision to close three of Florida’s largest Hardest-Hit Fund programs earlier this year. This decision was made even though the programs were originally slated to remain open until 2020, and in spite of the fact that $88 million of the federal funds provided for the programs had not yet been spent.
About the Hardest Hit Programs
Florida’s Hardest-Hit Fund Programs were instituted in 2010, after the Housing Finance Agency created the Hardest-Hit Fund to provide financial aid to struggling homeowners across the country. Florida received more than $1 billion of the fund, and used them to create five distinct housing-aid programs: Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment Program, Downpayment Assistance Program, Principal Reduction Program, and a Reverse Mortgage Program. Now, only the Downpayment Assistance Program and Reverse Mortgage Program remain, though the former was not specifically created to address the needs of those who have lost their homes to foreclosure.
While the programs were a valuable asset to those who had unexpected life events that caused them to fall behind on mortgage payments – such as the loss of a job or a death in the family – they had a rocky track record. The federal government had criticized Florida for having low applicant approval rates in the past, which is one of the main reasons why the decision to close the top Hardest-Hit Fund Programs early was so perplexing. Though Florida regularly ranks among the top states for foreclosure, it had the lowest application acceptance rate of the 17 states offered the federal funds.
Other Foreclosure Alternatives
Even without the Hardest-Hit programs, homeowners still have options for avoiding foreclosure. Here are a few of the alternatives one can explore with help from a foreclosure defense lawyer in Florida:
- Loan modification | If a homeowner wishes to keep their home, he or she may be eligible for a loan modification which allows the mortgage to be restructured as a means of making payments more affordable.
- Short Sale | If keeping the home is not a top priority, the debtor may be able to get the lender to agree to a sale of the home for less than what is owed.
- Deed in Lieu | Another option available to those who do not wish to keep their homes is a deed in lieu of foreclosure, which involves surrendering the home to the bank.
Are you falling behind on mortgage payments? If so, it may be time to consult with a foreclosure defense lawyer in Florida. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our experienced team.