Owning a home in Pawtucket has meant “everything” to Mirta since she first bought her home in 2005. Mirta spent 20 years working at a jewelry company while working part-time at a discount department store. The income from these two jobs provided Mirta with enough money to cover her mortgage and living expenses as well as send money to help her ailing mother and adult daughter.
Then, the jewelry company where Mirta was working closed its doors, and her only income was from her part-time job.
“One thing happens and then another and then another,” she said. “It was scary because I knew I was about to start falling behind on my mortgage.”
With help from a Rhode Island HelpCenter counselor, Mirta started working to submit an application for the Hardest Hit Fund SM Rhode Island.
“I was grateful to hear about Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island,” Mirta notes. “I was getting frustrated and frightened that I would lose my home. Having a home means everything to me.”
The counselor, with Mirta’s help, was able to gather the right paperwork and fill out Mirta’s application so she could receive needed HHFRI assistance. For the next six months, HHFRI funds will be helping Mirta pay her mortgage, while Mirta will pay the rest.
“You work so hard so you can get a home and then I was working to keep my home,” she says. “I have been a hard worker all of my life. I’m a working person.”
Mirta expects that within six months she will have a full-time job and plans to continue to moonlight at the department store. In the meantime, the extra help from HHFRI has allowed her to remain in her home with the welcoming door mat that reads: “Proud Americans live here.”
Mirta is just one of the homeowners who has begun to receive assistance through the Hardest Hit Fund. President Obama established the Hardest Hit Fund last year to provide targeted aid to struggling homeowners in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn, complementing other efforts to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. In total, 18 states and the District of Columbia receive funding through the program. These areas represent those that have been hardest hit by unemployment and steep home price declines.
Each state housing finance agency designed programs to meet the distinct challenges struggling homeowners in their state are facing. For example, states have designed programs to help unemployed homeowners make their mortgage payments, assist with mortgage reinstatement (to help homeowners become “current” on their loan), address “underwater” mortgages and help with second liens. A few states have also chosen to implement programs to help families transition to more affordable housing through short sales.
Areas participating in the Hardest Hit Fund include: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington DC.
To get in touch with a particular housing finance agency for more information about their program, please visit: http://www.treasury.gov/initiatives/financial-stability/housing-programs/hhf/Pages/default.aspx.
Homeowner story and photo courtesy of Rhode Island Housing. For more information about RI’s program and efforts to help homeowners, see http://www.hhfri.org.
Mark McArdle is Director of the Hardest Hit Fund.