For Immediate Release - July 07, 2011

Patrick-Murray Administration Raises Awareness About Interest Free Loan Program for Unemployed Homeowners

Lt. Governor releases PSA encouraging struggling homeowners to apply for $61 million in federal assistance available to Massachusetts; Administration to host foreclosure prevention workshops aimed at keeping people in their homes, stabilizing neighborhoods

BOSTON - Thursday, July 7, 2011 - Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray today launched a new public service campaign to inform struggling homeowners about the availability of interest free loans through the Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program (EHLP). Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) in conjunction with NeighborWorks America, Massachusetts homeowners are eligible for a total of $61 million in EHLP assistance, and must apply by July 22, 2011.

"Governor Patrick and I are committed to doing all we can to keep people in their homes and strengthen our neighborhoods," said Lieutenant Governor Murray. "This PSA is designed to get the word out to homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments so they know that they are not alone and help is available. If you are out of work, having trouble making ends meet and facing foreclosure, this loan program has the potential to help you get back on your feet."

The PSA, which also features Department of Housing & Community Development Undersecretary Tina Brooks, will be distributed statewide through traditional and social media in an effort to raise awareness about EHLP. To qualify for an interest free loan of up to two years or $50,000, homeowners must have experienced a 15% reduction in income due to involuntary unemployment, underemployment or medical emergency, are at least three months delinquent on a first mortgage and are facing foreclosure. Additional eligibility requirements apply and income requirements differ by region.

"These are critical loans to keep Massachusetts families in their homes and I'm proud to have worked with Governor Patrick and Lt Governor Murray to help provide this lifeline to folks who need it most," said U.S. Senator John Kerry.

"Massachusetts communities are working hard to rebound from this economic downturn," said U.S. Senator Scott Brown. "With too many of our residents still unable to find jobs, it is important that citizens are informed of the various opportunities for temporary assistance."

"Helping people who are facing mortgage difficulties solely because they are unemployed is good for the individuals, good for their neighbors, good for the communities in which they live, and good for the economy as a whole," said Congressman Barney Frank.

"This program provides mortgage payment assistance to qualified homeowners who are unemployed and at risk of losing their homes," said Congressman Mike Capuano. "If you are having trouble paying your mortgage because of unemployment, I encourage you to take a look at this program. It could help you avoid foreclosure and stay in your home."

"I am pleased that this federal funding is being used to create programs that will help people stay in their homes. I commend the Patrick-Murray Administration for drawing attention to the Emergency Homeowners' Loan Program and encouraging people who qualify to enroll," said Congressman John Olver.

"I encourage any homeowner who is facing foreclosure due to unemployment to find out if they are eligible," said Undersecretary Brooks. "This will serve as an important relief to families who were hardest hit by the recession."

EHLP counseling agencies will evaluate applications to make a pre-determination of household eligibility. Selected homeowners will then be asked to meet with a EHLP counselor to submit required documentation.

To find out more and complete the pre-applicant screening documents, call 855-346-3345.

Also today, the Patrick-Murray Administration announced plans to hold foreclosure prevention workshops in Fitchburg and Lawrence. The workshops will feature representatives from 10 national lenders and local housing counselors. Homeowners will be able to meet directly with a lender or housing counselor to discuss their situation and potential solutions. The workshops can cut through some of the procedural issues homeowners face and in some cases lead to workouts on the spot. The Lawrence workshop will be held on Tuesday, July 19, at the South Lawrence East School, 165 Crawford Street in Lawrence. The Fitchburg workshop will be held on Wednesday, July 20, at the Marriott Courtyard, 150 Royal Plaza Drive, Fitchburg. Both workshops run from 2-8 p.m., with registration closing at 7 p.m.

"Homeowners facing foreclosure who try to work long distance by phone with their lenders are often very frustrated as they are shuffled from one customer rep to another and paperwork is lost or filled out improperly. This all leads to delays and more headaches for the homeowner," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, which hosts the workshops on behalf of the administration. "The opportunity to meet face-to-face with the lender is a significant benefit to the homeowner and many walk out with their first real workout options."

Over the last two years, the Administration has conducted 12 foreclosure prevention workshops servicing 3,500 homeowners across the Commonwealth. The workshops are part of the Patrick-Murray Administration's comprehensive response to the foreclosure crisis, which also includes the creation of a 150-day right-to-cure period for homeowners, negotiated foreclosure stays for 1,700 homeowners through the Division of Banks and $4 million in education and prevention grants dedicated to local and regional housing counselors. Additionally, this month the Division of Banks is expected to propose a new, mandatory foreclosure right-to-cure notice for all lenders, which will make clear to homeowners the situation and options going forward. In the past, some notices were vague or poorly prepared and disregarded by homeowners.