The housing crisis that began in 2007 led to unprecedented home price declines and sustained and higher unemployment in certain parts of the country. Families in these areas have been particularly hard hit by this crisis as they have struggled to make their monthly mortgage payments and grappled to get out from under deeply underwater mortgages. While the housing market has strengthened in recent years, there is still an ongoing need to continue to assist homeowners and neighborhoods still experiencing the negative effects of the financial crisis. As a result in 2016, an additional $2 billion was allocated to participating HHF states to continue foreclosure prevention and neighborhood stabilization efforts.
President Obama established the Hardest Hit Fund SM in February 2010 to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. As part of the Administration’s overall strategy for restoring stability to housing markets, HHF provides funding for state HFAs to develop locally-tailored foreclosure prevention solutions in areas that have been hard hit by home price declines and high unemployment. From its initial announcement, this program evolved from a $1.5 billion initiative focused on HFAs in the five states with the steepest home price declines and the vast majority of underwater homeowners to a broader-based $7.6 billion initiative encompassing 18 states and the District of Columbia.
States were selected for funding either because they were struggling with unemployment rates at or above the national average or steep home price declines greater than 20 percent. Each state’s program was designed and is administered by that state’s housing finance agency (HFA).
Hardest Hit Fund programs vary state to state, but may include the following:
- Mortgage payment assistance for unemployed or underemployed homeowners
- Principal reduction to help homeowners get into more affordable mortgages
- Help for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes and into more affordable places of residence
- Blight elimination and down payment assistance efforts
Most HHF programs target assistance toward unemployed homeowners and those with homes that are worth less than the value of their mortgages. For more information about the program in a particular state, please check with that state's HFA or see the information here.