By Brooks Baehr - bio | email
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages have until the end of the day Friday, June 22 to apply for assistance through the federal Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program.
Qualified applicants may score an interest free $50,000 loan to keep their home from falling into foreclosure. Better yet, the loans are "forgivable" meaning they do not necessarily need to be paid back.
For application forms and more information click on the following link.
Home foreclosures across the United States were down 25% during the first six months of the year, but they are still a problem in Hawaii which ranks 12th in foreclosure rates among all states.
"I don't have that part of the income to pay the mortgage," Daniel Ezzo-White told Hawaii News Now.
Ezzo-White is gainfully employed. He and his wife Roxanne bought a townhouse in Pearl City eight years ago. Then tragedy struck. Roxanne died. Now Daniel is left struggling to pay the mortgage on just one salary.
"Bank of America told me I would have a loan modification, but it never came through," Ezzo-White explained.
The bank has threatened to foreclose, so Ezzo-White is applying for help through the Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program (EHLP).
"It's a federal program administered by HUD which provides a billion dollars nationally to provide interest free loans for homeowners that are having, qualified home owners, that are having difficulty making their mortgage payment," said Dennis Oshiro, Executive Director of Hawaii HomeOwnership Center.
Six million of those one billion dollars will go to 130 struggling home owners in Hawaii; 65 on Oahu and 65 on the neighbor islands. Each recipient will get $50,000 or two years of mortgage assistance, whichever comes first. The loans are described as forgivable loans.
"For every year that you remain in that home (after money from the loan has been exhausted) as your primary residence, 20% of the $50,000 is forgiven, so at the end of five years there is nothing to pay back," Oshiro explained.
Counselors at Hawaii HomeOwnership Center (HHOC) helped Ezzo-White apply.
To qualify a person's income must have dropped at least 15% (because of involuntary unemployment, under employment, or a medical reason), they must be 90 days late on their mortgage, and they must have received foreclosure notification from their lender.
At least twice as many people have applied than the number of loans available. A lottery will be used to select the people who ultimately get loans.
"I think it's kind of slim chance, but I can keep my house. I can have a house you know," Ezzo-White said.
HHOC's mission is to provide education, information and support to create successful first-time homeowners in Hawaii. HHOC can assist with applications. Its counselors can be reached by calling 523-9500.
Oshiro urges anyone struggling with their mortgage to inform their lender as soon as possible. That will allow the homeowner and lender to begin working on a solution as soon as possible.
Oshiro also advises struggling homeowners to call Aloha United Way at 211 for guidance. He stresses help is available and the sooner the problem is addressed the better.