Florida Hardest-Hit Fund Offers Foreclosure Prevention Support for Unemployed

The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund program was unveiled in the Sunshine State on April 18, 2011. The primary focus of the program is to offer foreclosure prevention assistance to residents that are unemployed or underemployed.

Florida Hardest-Hit Fund is comparable to the Making Home Affordable; a government sponsored program recently under scrutiny for providing disappointing results. Initiated in 2009, Making Home Affordable set lofty goals to help as many as 4 million homeowners considered at risk for foreclosure. Two years later, MHA has only helped about 200,000 homeowners obtain permanent loan modifications.

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As a real estate investor who has spent many years buying and selling distressed realty, I often receive calls from homeowners who desperately need foreclosure help and don't know where to turn. Although Making Home Affordable has not come close to reaching goals, I am still a proponent of the program, as well as others that can help homeowners save their home and get back on track.

The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund is similar to MHA, but focuses on offering financial assistance to unemployed and underemployed Florida residents. At present Hardest-Hit offers two programs that include: Mortgage Loan Reinstatement Payment Program (MLRP) and Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program (UMAP).

UMAP is the more popular of the two offerings. This program is available to individuals that are unemployed or underemployed through no fault of their own. UMAP offers up to six months of mortgage payments or a maximum of $12,000 to qualified homeowners.

MLRP is available to homeowners that have regained employment, but owe outstanding mortgage payments. Qualified homeowners can receive up to $6,000 to payoff past due amounts.

As it is with nearly all government-sponsored programs, qualifying for funds involves a lengthy application process. Prior to submitting an application, Florida residents ought to thoroughly read eligibility criterion and understand program details.

Decisions are based upon three elements that include: mortgage eligibility, property eligibility, and household eligibility. Each element has additional criterion that is presented within the Florida Hardest Hit Frequently Asked Questions report offered via the website.

Household eligibility requires property owners to be Florida residents that are underemployed and unemployed and use the house as their primary residence. The total household pretax income needs to be less than 140 percent of the county's median income level.

Additionally, Florida homeowners' housing debt must surpass 31-percent of their pretax household income. If homeowners have financial assets that exceed three months' of mortgage payments or $5,000, assets must be contributed toward curing mortgage arrears before they can apply for MLRP or UMAP funds.

The Florida Hardest-Hit Fund received over $1 billion in federal funds to help Florida homeowners. However, the rigorous application process and stringent eligibility criterion makes it difficult for many middle-class homeowners to obtain financial assistance. Homeowners that don't qualify for this program may want to investigate Obama's Making Home Affordable program.

A lot of people aren't aware of the government programs currently available to homeowners facing foreclosure. Many of those that do remit applications find the process complicated. Individuals that are uncertain if they qualify or how to submit an application, can obtain complimentary housing counseling through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

HUD housing counselors can assist homeowners with filling out and submitting applications for both Making Home Affordable and Florida Hardest-Hit Fund programs. Individuals can locate a national list of approved HUD housing counseling agencies at HUD.gov.

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