Q: I’ve been hearing that there are new resources for people who are unemployed to help save their homes. I’ve been out of work for 9 months, and while I have been looking hard to find a job, I haven’t found anything yet that comes close to what I was earning before.
In the meantime, I have nearly used up all of my savings, and have started tapping into my 401(k) account, which I know will cause some problems for me with the IRS next year. But I can’t help it. I don’t want to stop paying my mortgage.
I feel as though I’m getting close to finding a job that will pay me enough to continue to live in my house and feed my family. But I could really use some help just getting over the hump. How can I access this new program for unemployed homeowners and how do I get my lender to go along?
A: It sounds as though you’ve been through the wringer. So have millions of Americans. Around half of all those unemployed (there are 7 million fewer jobs then before the start of the recession) have been out of work for 6 months or longer – the biggest number in history, and that’s including the Great Depression. Times are tough.
But, good for you for hanging on. I don’t know if you’ll qualify for this latest government-funded program, but here are the details.
The Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP) is the latest offering from the federal government. Actually, the program has been around for a year, but fewer than 15,000 homeowners have qualified for it.
The Home Affordable Unemployment Program provides you with up to a year of reduced payments or a complete forbearance, where you do not have to make any payments on your mortgage. The amount you don’t pay is not forgiven, but is added to the back end of your loan.
According to the MakingHomeAffordable.gov website, you may be eligible for the program if “you are unemployed and eligible for unemployment benefits, you occupy the house as your primary residence, you make your request for help before you’ve missed three payments, you have not previously received an UP forbearance or HAMP SM modification, and you obtained your mortgage on or before January 1, 2009.”
The program requires all lenders that offer FHA loans to participate in the program. In addition, all lenders with loans owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are required to participate. There are 100 lenders in total that are participating, although they will not start granting forbearances until August 1, 2011, or perhaps a little later. You can find a list of participating lenders here: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-assistance/contact-mortgage/Pages/default.aspx.
While most of the government programs have fallen short of their goals, you can only hope that his program does better. Good luck.