Florida’s Hardest Hit Fund program was created to help underwater homeowners reduce their mortgage amounts and get their payments to a place they can afford. It was created back in 2010 by the Federal Government to reduce the foreclosure rate in the hardest hit states like Florida. It provides as much as a $50,000 reduction in the loan amount for qualifying homeowners.
But administration of the program has been so slow some homeowners have been waiting years to find out if they qualify and get some relief.
The Federal Program earmarked $7.6 billion for all the hardest hit states. Florida’s share was $1.1 billion of which Florida has only spent out about 44%. Other states like Oregon and Rhode Island have spent over 85% of their money.
Why the foot-dragging here in Florida?
Some say it’s partly Governor Scott’s hesitancy to use Federal money of any kind. Florida also started out slowly by creating only a small pilot program in Lee County to test the waters. Meanwhile many homeowners went into foreclosure and lost their homes because they couldn’t get relief in time. For many it was just too little too late.
“If Florida is lagging behind, it an embarrassment and shows lack of concern for the folks who’ve been hit the hardest,” said Ryan Brown, a spokesperson for Sen. Bill Nelson.
At Nelson’s request, the Treasury Department has been looking into questions raised by a Tampa Bay Time’s story that said law-abiding homeowners were slow to get money, but often the program was helping felons and tax cheats to get money.
In response, the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, the agency administering the program, said they are on track to use up all the money by 2017. Again this may be “too little too late” for many struggling homeowners.
A Tampa Bay Times article mentioned many homeowners who had frustrating stories of the slow process they have been faced with when trying to qualify for funding. Many have waited months just to hear from administrators after filing online. One homeowner waited so long he got behind on his payments and then no longer qualified for the program. One stipulation of the program is that the homeowner is current with mortgage payments.
Other stipulations of the program include…
- The home must be the primary residence of the borrower
- The unpaid balance must be less than $350,000
- Household income cannot be more than 140% of the average median income for the area ($80,360 in Tampa Bay)
- The homeowner must owe more than 125% of the current value
- The homeowner must be up-to-date on payments
You can learn more about the state’s program here.
The Hardest Hit Fund could clearly be a home-saver for many homeowners. But a slow applications process and our own state government’s foot-dragging on implementing the state’s program, have left many homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments, or worse, facing foreclosure.
If you need help with this process, please contact Brown & Associates. We are anxious to help you solve your mortgage problem. Contact us here or call us directly at 813-289-8455.