Q: I was listening to you on the radio and I believe I heard you mention that FHA was now participating in something called the UP program, which you said was forbearance on mortgage payments if you are unemployed.

Additionally, you said that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be following suit and requiring their lenders to participate in the near future. Can you please direct me to a website or give me further information on this program? I cannot find anything.

A: Sure. The program you’re talking about is the government’s “new and improved” Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP). The reason that it’s “new and improved” is that the program was introduced a year ago and only around 7,000 unemployed homeowners were able to get their lenders to assist them.

The government is hoping it has improved the program enough so that more lenders will participate (all FHA lenders are required to participate), and more unemployed homeowners will be helped.

According to the Home Affordable Unemployment Page, you may be eligible for assistance if you meet the following criteria: 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; you obtained your mortgage on or before January 1, 2009.

Please be aware that whether in fact you are eligible is a decision only your lender can make. For a list of lenders that are participating in the program, go to MakingHomeAffordable.gov. The link you want is “Get Help If Unemployed.” Here’s a shortcut: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/programs/unemployed-help/Pages/default.aspx

Good luck!