Now resuscitated, program had been dead for over a year
The crucial Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program has new life, and thousands of Pennsylvania homeowners can finally exhale in relief, thanks to the commonwealth receiving its share of a multi-million dollar, federal settlement with five of the nation’s largest mortgage grantors.
The bulk of Pennsylvania’s share — $66.5 million — will go toward HEMAP and other housing-related services.
“With the receipt of these funds, HEMAP will now begin accepting applications,” Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett said. “The foreclosure prevention assistance provided by HEMAP directly helps families in danger of foreclosure. This multi-year funding for HEMAP will not only help troubled homeowners, but will play a role in restoring the health of our state’s housing industry.”
In June, Corbett signed Senate Bill 1433, which became the Homeowner Assistance Settlement Act, which authorized the disbursement of the state’s share of the settlement.
According to Corbett’s office, HEMAP will receive 90 percent of these funds over the course of several years, with the remaining ten percent going to several consumer protection services overseen by the attorney general. HEMAP will also receive an additional $6 million to deal with the anticipated backlog of applications.
Homeowners who are at least three months delinquent on mortgage payments are eligible for HEMAP; information is available on the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency website: www.PHFA.org.
“We’re grateful to Governor Corbett, Attorney General Kelly and the legislature for making this funding available,” said Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Executive Director and CEO Brian A. Hudson Sr. “HEMAP has a proven track record for working to keep families in their homes, which helps communities as a whole.
“Many families and neighborhoods will benefit from this renewed funding for HEMAP.”
The Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Unemployment Project both hailed HEMAP’s resuscitation.
HEMAP was started in 1983 to help homeowners avoid foreclosure mining bust in Western Pennsylvania that ravished the homeowner base at the time. During the last 29 years, HEMAP has provided foreclosure prevention assistance to more than 46,000 families and the program has maintained an 85 percent success rate for helping families stay in their homes.
“This is great news and is the result of a year-long campaign by advocates around the state to get the program reinstated after it was closed due to budget cuts in July 2011,” said Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania Executive Director Liz Hersh, who referenced a recent report by The Reinvestment Fund, which provided a synopsis of what housing in Pennsylvania would look like without the existence of HEMAP. “HEMAP actually reduced the foreclosure rate in Pennsylvania during the depths of the crisis; it is 85 percent effective in preventing foreclosure and it ends up saving the Commonwealth money.
“Most importantly, it buffers homeowners facing foreclosure through no fault of their own due to job loss or illness, by giving them a bridge loan until they get back on their feet.”
Philadelphia Unemployment Project Executive Director John Dodds and Hersh have led several caravans to marches on Harrisburg over the matter, and have petitioned several politicians to refund HEMAP, and Dodds believes the efforts were worth it.
“We are really happy that HEMAP is now available to homeowners again after over a year closed due to budget cuts,” Dodds said. “Organizations and homeowners from around the state came together in the PA Save Our Homes Coalition and worked on restoring the program for the past year. Restarting HEMPAP is one of the few good things that have come out of this year’s budget process.”