Federal program could help residents in foreclosure
Georgia Pabst/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

8 July 2011

Homeowners facing foreclosure because of unemployment, underemployment or a medical condition may be eligible for help with monthly mortgage payments through the federal Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program, city and federal officials said Friday.

Under the program, a person who is eligible can get a forgivable loan to pay part of their monthly mortgage for up to two years, or $50,000, whichever comes first.

But those who think they might be eligible for the program only have until July 22 to apply, said Antonio Riley, the Midwest regional administrator for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Riley, along with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Common Council President Willie Hines and Ald. Michael Murphy, announced the program Friday and urged those who think they might be eligible to apply.

"We're here to say help is on the way for those in danger of losing their homes," said Barrett.

"I strongly encourage people who are facing difficult financial situations and the possibility of losing the home they own to come forward and ask about the help that's available," he said. "This program may present a path out of a difficult personal financial predicament."

HUD has allocated more than $51 million to fund the program in Wisconsin, said Riley. It's part of a $1 billion allocation nationally, he said.

If a person qualifies, a portion of the mortgage, including missed payments or past-due charges, could be covered and "bring a true measure of relief and hope for many Milwaukeeans who are at the brink," said Hines.

"With 6,000 in the process of foreclosure, this program can offer a bridge to help some people suffering from economic or medical problems to stay in their home," said Murphy. "It's not free, but offers the opportunity for some breathing room."

With the loan, a person must continue to pay on the home.

For Milwaukee, the program is "too good to be true," said Murphy, adding that the foreclosure crisis has taken a heavy toll on families and neighborhoods.

The timeline for the program is short because Riley said it's tied to the fiscal year that closes Sept. 30, and applications have to be in the pipeline before then.

Applications for the program are being taken by the nonprofit housing counseling agencies that include Green Path, Housing Resources and Select Milwaukee.

For more information on the program and its eligibility requirements call toll free at (855) FIND-EHLP or (855) 346-3345 or go to www.Findehlp.org.